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20 May 2004

review Sustainable livelihoods: seeds of success? Plus: • • • •

Gender insensitivity in Australian detention centres IDP vulnerability in Sri Lanka Russia’s forced migrants Global response to IDPs

published by the Refugee Studies Centre in association with the Norwegian Refugee Council NORWEGIAN REFUGEE COUNCIL

provides a forum for the regular exchange of practical experience, information and ideas between researchers, refugees and internally displaced people, and those who work with them. It is published in English, Spanish and Arabic by the Refugee Studies Centre/University of Oxford in association with the Norwegian Refugee Council. The Spanish translation, Revista de Migraciones Forzadas, is produced by IDEI in Guatemala.

Editors Marion Couldrey & Dr Tim Morris Subscriptions Assistant Sharon Ellis Forced Migration Review Refugee Studies Centre, Queen Elizabeth House, 21 St Giles, Oxford, OX1 3LA, UK Email: Tel: +44 (0)1865 280700 • Fax: +44 (0)1865 270721

Website Funders in 2004 Brookings-SAIS Project on Internal Displacement Christian Aid Danish Refugee Council Department for International Development (UK) Feinstein International Famine Center, Tufts University Fritz Institute Internal Displacement Unit, OCHA Norwegian Refugee Council Oxfam GB The Tolkien Trust United Methodist Committee on Relief UNDP Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery UNFPA

from the editors any thanks to World Vision Canada for a generous grant towards the production costs of this issue on livelihoods. We are also grateful to UNHCR’s Evaluation and Policy Unit (EPAU), especially Greta Uehling. Thanks also to Carrie Conway for her invaluable assistance in the earlier stages of preparation.


This issue introduces two innovations: ■ highlighting the feature section pages in order to more clearly separate theme from non-theme articles ■ a Speaker’s Corner: an opportunity for iconoclasts to ask difficult questions and puncture assumptions. Please contact us if you would like to step up to the soapbox and put your case. Many thanks to all of you who returned our readership survey questionnaire. Your input has been extremely useful – and we were touched by your enthusiastic endorsements. As promised, we have drawn ‘out of the hat’ the name of a lucky winner: Refugee Resettlement Support of Christchurch, New Zealand. Congratulations! The books are already in the post to you! We will report survey results online and in FMR21. FMR 21 (due out in September) will include a feature section on the return and reintegration of IDPs, to be produced in collaboration with OCHA’s Internal Displacement Unit and UNDP’s Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery. FMR 22’s feature theme will be education in emergencies and reconstruction and will be produced in partnership with UNESCO’s International Institute for Educational Planning and the Norwegian Refugee Council (see p53 for call for papers). Calls for papers for forthcoming issues are posted on our website at For those of you with fast Internet access, FMR is now searchable by keyword and by author – go to Many thanks to our colleagues at Forced Migration Online. FMR is still seriously short of funds and the future of the Arabic and Spanish editions remains in doubt. Many thanks to UNHCR, Christian Aid and the Feinstein International Famine Center (Tufts University) for easing our financial worries. Perhaps other agencies could follow their lead? Every little bit counts if we are to continue sending around 7,000 copies of FMR in three languages to readers in over 150 countries.

UNHCR World Vision Canada

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With best wishes Marion Couldrey and Tim Morris Editors, Forced Migration Review Copyright and disclaimer: Material from Forced Migration Review may be freely reproduced but please acknowledge the source. Photographs should only be reproduced in the context of the articles in which they appear (and credited). Materials and information contained in Forced Migration Review are the opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors, the Refugee Studies Centre or the Norwegian Refugee Council. Front cover photo: Sudanese refugees in Bonga camp, near Gambella town, Ethiopia. UNHCR/N Behring.

Corinne Owen

Forced Migration Review


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Sustainable livelihoods: seeds of success?

contents The forgotten Palestinians: how Palestinian refugees survive in Egypt by Oroub al Abed...........................................................................29 Learning from empowerment of Sri Lankan refugees in India by K C Saha .....................................................................................31 Livelihood opportunities for Sudanese refugees by Leben Nelson Moro ..................................................................32

Mainstreaming livelihoods support: the Refugee Livelihoods Project by Carrie Conway .............................................................................4

Skills training for youth by Barry Sesnan, Graham Wood, Marina L Anselme and Ann Avery........................................................................................33

General articles Challenges to the efective implementation of microfinance programmes in refugee settings by Jason Phillips ...............................................................................5 Microcredit: an ‘oxygen infusion for a better life’ by Merethe Kvernröd.......................................................................8 Credit-based livelihood interventions in a Zambian refugee camp by Jane Travis .................................................................................10 Microfinance and refugees by Dominik Bartsch .......................................................................12 Recapitalising Liberia: principles for providing grants and loans for microenterprise development by John Tucker, Tim Nourse, Rob Gailey, Dave Park and Stephen Bauman ..........................................................................13

Speaker’s Corner: Convention Plus — better protection for refugees? by Manisha Thomas and Ed Schenkenberg van Mierop ........36 The experiences of women in Australian immigration detention centres by Yvette Zurek ..............................................................................37 Where there is no information: IDP vulnerability assessments in Sri Lanka’s borderlands by Danesh Jayatilaka and Robert Muggah................................39 Bridging the national and international response to IDPs by Peter Neussl...............................................................................42 The Internal Displacement Unit – OCHA ...............................44 UNDP’s Bureau for Crisis Prevention & Recovery ..............45

Food aid and livelihoods: challenges and opportunities in complex emergencies by Valerie Guarnieri .....................................................................15

Age and gender bias in Russia’s assistance to forced migrants? by Larisa Kosygina.........................................................................46

Livelihoods of former deportees in Ukraine by Greta Uehling ............................................................................19 Protection versus promotion of IDP livelihoods in Colombia by Antonio Hill ...............................................................................21 Marketing refugee skills: an Oxford success story by Rachel Wiggans .........................................................................24

Regular features Update..............................................................................................47 UNHCR: How can we obtain the information we need about refugees? ................................................................48 Brookings-SAIS Project on Internal Displacement: National responsibility for internal displacement in the Americas ....49

Livelihood strategies of urban refugees in Kampala by Michela Macchiavello ...............................................................26 Survival to livelihood strategies for Mozambican refugees in South Africa by Frederick Golooba-Mutebi and Stephen M Tollman .........28

NRC: Youth Education Pack: an investment in the future ......50 Global IDP Project: Global Overview ........................................51 Refugee Studies Centre: Voices of conflict.............................52 Publications ....................................................................................54 Endnote: Dark Dreams .................................................................56


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Mainstreaming livelihoods support: the Refugee Livelihoods Project by Carrie Conway

In May 2003 UNHCR’s Evaluation and Policy Analysis Unit (EPAU) launched the Refugee Livelihoods Project to improve understanding of how refugees construct their livelihoods, to assess the nature and extent of UNHCR’s involvement in supporting refugee livelihoods and to facilitate wider information exchange.

The articles in this edition of FMR illustrate the vast amount of research Eritrean refugees and work on the theme of refugee in south east livelihoods. We now need to shift from Sudan high-level abstract dimensions of development towards a focus on the refugees themselves and how they seek to construct their own livelihoods. All too often, organisations have developed programmes for refugees with little or no understanding of their capabilities and strategies. Initiated by Jeff Crisp1, the Refugee Livelihoods Project (RLP) has two main areas of activity – country/thematic case studies and the Refugee Livelihoods Network. From its work in protracted refugee situations, EPAU has discovered that there is a considerable body of literature on refugee livelihoods strategies and how they may be supported by humanitarian and development agencies. While UNHCR reports daily on its work with over 20 million refugees in over 120 countries worldwide, it has rarely focused on gathering baseline information on livelihood security

strategies. The RLP seeks to fill this gap in information provision. A series of country and thematic case studies has been underway since June 2003. Commissioned by EPAU and conducted by staff members and qualified consultants, case studies have been completed, or are underway, in Ecuador, Ethiopia, Gabon, the Gambia, Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda and the Ukraine. Researchers are adopting a differentiated approach to the analysis of refugee livelihoods, paying particular attention to the issues of gender, age and physical capacity – including the impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic on refugee livelihoods.

For further information on the Refugee Livelihoods Project and to access reports, visit the EPAU section of UNHCR’s website at epau. To subscribe to the network’s monthly newsletter, email Carrie Conway is Acting Network Moderator. Email: 1. Jeff Crisp, the former head of EPAU (and frequent FMR contributor) is now Director of Policy and Research with the Global Commission on International Migration (

The Refugee Livelihoods Network is an interactive electronic network designed to facilitate the exchange of information, ideas and papers among UNHCR staff, consultants and staff of other agencies, academics and research institutes. Although there is a number of relief and development networks and e-discussion fora, there has not previously been a discussion mechanism focusing specifically on refugee livelihoods. By putting practitioners and researchers in touch, the network aims to facilitate information exchange in order to improve policy planning and programming. The network currently has over 240 subscribers worldwide. This positive response demonstrates that there is a wide range of practitioners and researchers who wish to see the issue of refugee livelihoods be given much greater prominence in the international discourse of human displacement. UNHCR/A Wilkinson


s UNHCR and other agencies move away from their former depiction of refugees as helpless victims of circumstances dependent on the charity of others, the term ‘livelihood’ has entered the discourse of refugee assistance. This has been accompanied by a new degree of interest in protracted refugee situations and self reliance. Academics and practitioners alike now stress refugees’ ‘productive capacity’. Like High Commissioners before him, Ruud Lubbers has reminded the world of the need to respect refugees and their potential.

As the number of uprooted people in the world continues to rise, the international community is faced with mounting challenges on how best to assist refugees in need. Understanding people’s livelihood strategies is a prerequisite to assisting them. The Refugee Livelihoods Project aims to understand these realities through the facilitation of information sharing and lessons learned.


Jason Phillips

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Challenges to the effective implementation of microfinance programmes in refugee settings by Jason Phillips

The initiativeininKakuma Kakuma Theclosure failure of of aa microfinance microfinance initiative refugee constraintsfacing facing refugeecamp camp in in Kenya Kenya highlights highlights constraints such programmes and lessons to be learned. such programmes and lessons to be learned.


ow can microfinance programmes contribute to the livelihood strategies of refugees? There are some important lessons to be learned from the programme carried out by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya, from 1992 to 2003. The numerous obstacles encountered eventually led to a decision to end the programme. The experience highlights the need to recognise that certain minimum conditions are required for the successful implementation of microfinance programmes in refugee settings. Kakuma refugee camp was set up in 1992 in the far northwestern tip of Turkana District, Kenya. It is home to approximately 88,000 refugees from nine different countries and over 40 ethnic groups, the vast majority from southern Sudan. Camp residents remain almost completely dependent

on international assistance to meet basic needs. Although the camp has existed for more than a decade, in most sectors of service delivery minimum international standards developed for emergencies (e.g. SPHERE1) consistently fail to be achieved. Though Kakuma is classified by UNHCR as a care and maintenance operation, in many respects it may be seen as an exemplar of a protracted refugee setting.2 IRC has been working in Kakuma since the camp opened. IRC has implemented a variety of livelihoodrelated programmes under the heading of Self-Reliance Programmes. These included – until the end of 2003 – adult education, communitybased rehabilitation and economic skills development. While aiming to improve income-generation opportunities, they were all linked to the achievement of core health objectives

such as the reduction of malnutrition and mortality. In 1992, in response to refugee demand for credit services and programmes supporting entrepreneurship, IRC initiated its first microfinance project (Micro-Enterprise Development Programme, MEDP). Between 1992 and 2001, this developed into a comprehensive project consisting of four discrete, but closely linked, sub-sectors: 1.

Micro-lending: IRC managed a small revolving fund disbursing loans to individuals and groups of entrepreneurs. Loans averaged 10,000 Kenyan Shillings (Ksh) ($133), and bore an interest rate of 24% per annum. Loans were secured through the deposit of cash into an IRC-managed savings account, although vulnerable groups without cash collateral were eligible to use community trust as a guarantee. From 1997 to 2001, 1,193 loans totalling 9,940,120 Ksh ($132,535) were disbursed.

Kakuma market

Challenges to the effective implementation of microfinance programmes in refugee settings 2.


Savings: IRC managed an interest-bearing savings account for refugee depositors. In addition to acting as the custodian of collateral for participants in the micro-lending programme, the account was open to refugee depositors who had businesses in the camp but were not current loan holders. In response to reductions in donor funding for the micro-lending project, savings were mobilised as lending capital. In 2000, at its peak, the balance on deposit exceeded 4,500,000 Ksh ($60,000). Business Skills Training: Training consisting of four modules (orientation to business practices; management of business activities; book and record keeping; and accounting and costing) was provided for participants in the micro-lending project and for other refugee entrepreneurs wanting to improve their business capacity. Between 1996 and 2001, 3,184 persons completed at least one of the modules.


Business Outreach: A network of community-based business development officers was established to support loan clients, assist in loan recovery and identify potential new clients.

By the end of 2002, however, a series of audits and programme reviews highlighted serious shortcomings in IRC’s microfinance programme in Kakuma and by December 2003 all microfinance elements (apart from a small sanitation project) had been closed down.

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and expertise in the field which is not providing social welfare services. However, IRC’s key mandate – and area of expertise – in Kakuma was health programming. IRC established its MEDP programme in response to refugee demand and an initial gap in support for entrepreneurs but it was of secondary importance to IRC’s principal objective of improving the health of the refugee population. In 2001, for example, the MEDP absorbed less than 5% of IRC’s total budget in Kenya. It was difficult for senior managers to devote the time necessary to active supervision of this sector when other programmes were of higher – ‘life-saving’ – priority. With the exception of the Programme Manager hired to supervise the project, none of the senior managers in IRC Kenya had microenterprise training. This lack of capacity was mirrored at the global level. IRC engaged one technical expert and one staff person, each on a part-time basis, to provide support to all countries where microfinance programmes were being implemented. Regular microfinance training conferences were held but there were only limited opportunities for sustained technical support.

The constraints encountered were both internal and external. Why did IRC’s attempts to stimulate economic development and income generation not succeed? The constraints encountered were both internal and external. The internal constraints derived from programmatic and organisational capacities, structures and decisions. The external constraints arose from the operating environment over which IRC had limited or no influence.

Internal constraints The first internal constraint was IRC’s lack of organisational capacity and expertise. A prerequisite for implementation of a microfinance programme should be the presence of an organisation with proven skills

The most evident gap in organisational capacity, however, came not on the programme side but on the financial side. Successful MEDPs require adequately trained and highly competent financial, as well as programme, managers, and there must be good collaboration between finance and programme departments. Revolving funds’ management, accounting and financial

Signing a loan agreement Jason Phillips


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Challenges to the effective implementation of microfinance programmes in refugee settings

reporting (according to internationally established standards such as the Small Enterprise Education and Promotion (SEEP) Network3) require different skill sets than those typically found among accountants and controllers accustomed to fund accounting and donor grant management systems. Breakdowns in communication between MEDP staff in Kakuma and finance staff in Nairobi, coupled with a lack of expertise and, in some cases, lack of interest in learning on the part of financial managers, led to chronic financial reporting problems. At times discrepancies in reports required reconciliation of as many as four parallel sets of ‘books’. A second set of internal difficulties arose around operationalising and achieving ‘sustainability’. One of the biggest challenges to implementing an effective programme in Kakuma was a lack of clarity over what ‘sustainability’ should and could mean. In an effort to follow best practices, all IRC microfinance programmes worldwide – Kakuma’s included – completed regular SEEP financial ratio reports and tracked programme performance against the two key ratios of operational and financial self-sufficiency.4 In neither measure was the IRC Kakuma MEDP ever capable of demonstrating success. As of the end of the 2000 financial year, for example, operational and financial self-sufficiency stood at a meagre 13.5% and 13.4% respectively. From 1997 to 2001, the loan repayment rate only averaged 80%. It was also not clear exactly how ‘sustainability’ in a refugee camp context like Kakuma should be conceptualised. IRC was implementing microfinance programmes in a multiplicity of settings worldwide, including among IDPs, returnees, refugees in camps and settlements and refugee/IDP-hosting local communities. Each programme was required to report on sustainability according to the SEEP definitions above. Yet sustainability as an objective of a microfinance programme can take many forms. In some countries, like the Balkans or Caucasus, achievement of sustainability was defined as the building of a local, independent microfinance institution that could continue operations in the absence of IRC. Such a model, however, was completely unrealistic in Kakuma, given

low refugee capacities, high client mobility and the refusal of the Kenyan authorities to permit or recognise a refugee-run microfinance institution. Handing over any form of ongoing microfinance concern to the refugee community was impossible, given the constraints to refugee capital accumulation and savings mechanisms and diverse, often conflicting, refugee community leadership and accountability structures. A final internal challenge to effective MEDP implementation in Kakuma was difficulty in reaching the programme’s intended beneficiaries and, when reached, questionable positive impact. IRC’s programmes sought to reach the poorest of the poor and the most vulnerable members of the refugee, and refugee-hosting, community, including female-headed households and the disabled. This beneficiary focus, however, often conflicted with the programme’s financial objectives, which, for example, sought to minimise loan delinquency/default and generate savings for loan capital. The savings project, for example, became dominated by the wealthiest members of the refugee community. At the end of November 2000 the single largest saver accounted for 13.5% of all deposits. Of greater concern, however, were the results of an impact survey conducted in December 2002 among revolving grant clients. Not only did most grant recipients experience no sustainable, mediumterm improvement in their household income but one-third of businesses surveyed were found to be in worse financial condition than before the intervention began. In addition, some members of groups that had received grants had had to sell household assets in order to meet revolving grant repayment requirements. For those households, at least, it could be argued that the intervention had actually reduced, rather than improved, their livelihood security.

External constraints Restrictive governmental policies and practices were a key factor inhibiting the implementation of an effective microfinance programme in Kakuma. According to one analyst, “there is a need to link the question of livelihoods with the issue of rights and protection… [M]any of the world’s refugees are unable to establish and maintain independent livelihoods

because they cannot exercise the rights to which they are entitled under international human rights and international law.”5 This is certainly the case in Kenya, where refugees have very limited freedom of movement, have extreme difficulty getting permission to work legally, have no access to land for agricultural production, are not permitted by the local community in Kakuma to possess livestock and cannot access the local banking (credit and savings) sector. A thriving, localised market has built up around the international refugee aid economy in Kakuma,6 benefiting both refugee and local Turkana alike, but this market is severely constrained for refugee entrepreneurs by the factors above. Refugee business owners, for example, require the permission of UNHCR and the local Government of Kenya District Officer to travel outside the camp to procure goods. Lacking universally recognised and respected identification documents, refugees are subject to harassment by police, preventing the efficient movement of supplies to the camp marketplace. The camp itself is located in one of the most marginalised and inhospitable areas of Kenya, an area known for high degrees of communal, intercommunal and sexual violence. Tense relations between the refugee and host communities, exacerbated by competition over scarce resources and local perceptions of neglect by the national and international authorities, have led to the targeting of refugee businesses and households by bandits. In the absence of strong police and judicial systems, acts of robbery and violence perpetrated against refugees go unpunished. All of these factors, in turn, act as limits to development of a stronger refugee marketplace. The limited scope of the refugee market was also a barrier to success. Constraints placed on refugee access to, and ownership of, land and livestock and limited opportunities for wage-earning employment have created a highly competitive market with little diversification. Most refugee businesses are concentrated in the petty trading and service sectors, such as retail shops, restaurants and bars, vegetable/meat/fish sellers, and tailors. There is little production capacity, either because the basic capital investment required is too great



Challenges to the effective implementation of microfinance programmes in refugee settings for most refugees, or because already manufactured goods (such as secondhand clothing) are readily available at prices lower than one could make them in Kakuma. Finally, there has historically been a lack of coordination among refugeeassistance agencies in Kakuma, limiting the effectiveness and appropriateness of IRC’s microfinance interventions. Of the 11 UN and NGO agencies working in Kakuma, at least five (including IRC) have had incomegeneration programmes of one form or another running concurrently. It was not until 2003 that UNHCR identified a lead implementing partner for income-generating activities in

Each programme and agency had a different approach Kakuma and took an active role in inter-agency coordination. Each programme and agency had a different approach to economic stimulation, some providing grants, others loans, others vocational training linked to employment. Even among the loan programmes, conditions such as interest rates and repayment terms differed. This proliferation of approaches had several effects. Refugees were able to access multiple credit facilities simultaneously, thereby increasing their indebtedness and undermining their ability to meet repayment schedules for all creditors. The difference between a loan and a

grant, or other forms of material assistance provided in-kind for free, was also blurred. It was difficult to foster a culture of debt repayment under these circumstances. By 2003 it had become clear that a) IRC’s interventions were adding to the complexities of an already confused marketplace; b) other agencies were now focusing attention on the underlying beneficiary needs to which IRC initially responded; and c) other agencies, in fact, might have greater expertise and capacity to address those needs.

Microfinance best practice in refugee settings This brief review highlights several lessons to be learned: ■ Implementation of successful microfinance programmes requires qualified staff with technical expertise plus an organisational commitment to invest the resources necessary to provide that expertise, at all levels of the organisation. ■ Microfinance needs to be understood as a financial, as well as programmatic, intervention. Structures of collaboration need to be developed and maintained between field programme staff and headquarters finance staff to assure quality reporting and monitoring.

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■ Microfinance programme impact needs to be creatively evaluated. The potential for adverse outcomes, inimical to goals of improved refugee livelihood security, should be recognised. ■ Concepts such as ‘sustainability’ and ‘self-sufficiency’, so commonly used as measures of success, need to be critically examined. New definitions may be necessary, as may the realisation that there may be insurmountable limits to achieving either one. Jason Phillips is the Kenya Country Director of the IRC. Email: For information about IRC’s work in Kenya, see index.cfm 1. See 2. For a discussion of what defines a protracted refugee situation see J Crisp, ‘No Solutions in Sight: the Problem of Protracted Refugee Situations in Africa’, UNHCR EPAU, New Issues in Refugee Research, Jan 2003. Online at: 3. See 4. Operational self-sufficiency is achieved when internally-generated income (from interest and fees) is equal to or greater than the expenses of operating a credit programme. Financial self-sufficiency is achieved when internally-generated income covers direct operating and financial costs and is sufficient to maintain the real value of the credit portfolio. 5. Crisp J ‘UNHCR, refugee livelihoods and selfreliance: a brief history’, EPAU background documents, 22 October 2003, available online at 6. Phillips J ‘’Hell’ never looked so good’, Report from the Field, Humanitarian Affairs Review, Winter 2002, pp.40-43.

Microcredit - an ‘oxygen infusion for a better life’ 1

by Merethe Kvernröd

Since 1998 the Norwegian Refugee Council has taken a lead role in providing microcredit to enable IDPs in Azerbaijan to stand on their own feet.


zerbaijan is home to 575,000 IDPs who left Nagorny Karabakh and surrounding districts in the early 1990s. According to the UN and World Bank, 70% live below the income poverty line (US$24

per person per month). Azerbaijan’s new oil and gas wealth has not removed the need for creating viable livelihoods for a population with no immediate prospects of return to Armenian-held Nagorny Karabakh.

NRC’s programme – which since 2002 has been implemented by our subsidiary, Normicro Ltd – has been very successful. Repayment rates have been exceptionally high and there are today 3,500 clients. Family businesses enabled by the programme provide employment to over 7,000 people. Normicro is one of ten local organisations fostered by international agencies engaged in creating economic opportunities both for IDPs and

FMR 20 poor Azerbaijanis. These serve close to 20,000 clients and have enabled around 40,000 job places. While this is a drop in the ocean compared to the need to provide viable livelihoods for several million poor people, a start has been made and the viability of microcredit has been proven. Microfinance in Azerbaijan has reached the ‘non-bankable’ – those who would not otherwise meet criteria for a bank loan. IDPs have little or no collateral, having lost homes and other material assets. Encouragingly, the majority of the small family enterprises supported by microcredit providers are now able to survive without additional support. While NRC and a few other organisations do not require loan clients to provide collateral, most micro loans in Azerbaijan are given against collateral. Of the ten active microcredit agencies those with the largest number of clients are FINCA, World Vision and NRC. Others include Oxfam, Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), Viator, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) and the Agricultural Cooperative Development International (ACDI/VOCA). Microfinance is additionally provided by larger actors such as Shorebank (USAID-funded), the Azerbaijan Microfinance Bank (EU-funded), the Bank of Baku (supported by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) and the World Bank-backed Social Fund for Development of IDPs.

Microcredit – an ‘oxygen infusion for a better life’ in the business and the rest used to raise the living standards of his dependants. By local standards his family now has a good income. Mehman would like another larger loan to further expand his business. Loan schemes targeted at both urban and rural IDPs have succeeded because Normico has: ■ worked to build trust and transparency and to enable a credit culture ■ established credibility in the community before issuing collateral-free loans ■ held meetings with community elders and leaders to make sure loan terms and conditions are known to all potential borrowers ■ regularly communicated with clients and ensured Normicro staff make follow-up visits

Challenges to microcredit programmes in Azerbaijan The legal framework is not conducive to microcredit. The tax authorities see microcredit programmes as profitable activities and seek to apply complicated tax rules. They tax the income from interest on loans on the same basis as they do with any other largescale business activity – regardless of the fact that the nominal ‘profit’ is not taken out but is ploughed back to increase the loan capital available for further distribution to vulnerable families. If the heavy tax burden is not reduced, interest rates on loans will have to remain high and only the bigger organisations with a large capital will be able to survive in the long run.

Building transparency is vital in a country where corruption is rampant. Mehman Mammadov is typical of those who have created a new life from a modest initial loan from NRC. In 1999 he took out an initial $300 loan which helped him to subsequently expand the turnover of his food business, to open a grocery and to hire three assistants. He has recently established a bakery and with an $800 loan bought an oven and was able to employ six more people. Today he supplies baked goods to 20 bakery shops in and around Baku and provides for his family of seven. In common with other Normicro clients, around half of his profits are invested

Building transparency is vital in a country where corruption is rampant. NRC is helping by promoting client decision making. Annual general assemblies of clients have been convened since 2000. Representatives from client communities are involved from the beginning of the loan process. Advisory boards – of community representatives and our staff – make decisions on loan eligibility and actions to take when clients are unable to meet repayment schedules.

In a male-dominated society like Azerbaijan, most of the IDP loan takers are men but a fairly large number of loans are given to families where both the husband and the wife are equally responsible for the loan and the development of the business. NRC, FINCA and Oxfam are among the agencies looking for better strategies to provide women with equal opportunities for business development and to avert the risk that loans targeted at women are actually used by men. Skills training initiatives for women could raise the percentage of loans given to women. Vocational training is a major challenge for those clients who have been economically inactive for many years and lost their previous skills. Many left rural areas and their skills are not relevant for urban labour markets. It is thus hardly surprising that most credit clients are engaged in urban trade rather than productive activities. Microcredit providers must do more to boost the service sector in Azerbaijan and to develop synergy between credit, vocational training and business skills development. Entrenched positions may make the Nagorny Karabakh conflict seem insoluble. For the foreseeable future large-scale return is not feasible. Livelihood strategy support must be part of durable solutions for IDPs in Azerbaijan, whether they integrate or eventually return home. Although some have voiced the opinion that making life in urban areas too comfortable for IDPs risks hampering return, the Norwegian Refugee Council believes that strengthening their ability to take charge of their own lives will empower IDPs whatever the future holds. Merethe Kvernröd is the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Resident Representative in Azerbaijan. Email: This article was written with assistance from Bahman Askerov from Normicro and Jeff Flowers from FINCA Azerbaijan (

For extensive information on IDPs in Azerbaijan, see the Global IDP Project’s database at: tries/Azerbaijan 1. Comment made at a recent meeting of microfinance institutions in Azerbaijan.



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Credit-based livelihood interventions in a Zambian refugee camp

by Jane Travis

Establishing community credit facilities has become an important developmental tool for building livelihood strategies. In the refugee camps where the British NGO Christian Outreach Relief and Development (CORD) has worked, programmes have provided credit in the form of cash, agricultural inputs or livestock.

Challenges to sustainable livelihoods in Mayukwayukwa settlement The economy of Mayukwayukwa is based on agricultural production on the land allocated to the refugees. The staple crops are maize and cassava. Declining soil fertility and shortages of fertiliser as result of Zambia’s agricultural liberalisation have reduced yields. Refugees have also been affected by the uncertainties of repatriation. Told in the 1990s they might soon be returning to Angola, many stopped planting and some sold off assets such as livestock. When the repatriations did not take place they were left in a much weaker economic position.

Agricultural production by recently arrived refugees has been even more limited. For the first two years they are entitled to food rations but they work hard to add to their income. When they are not working their own plots, many find piecework in Zambian villages, often paid in food. This is the main source of additional income and there are limited opportunities for other work. Though refugees wishing to leave the camp are required to get permission, many risk arrest by leaving without authorisation. Many refugees have tried to stay outside the official sites and settle in rural areas. Whilst a small number of (mostly educated) refugees have been given permission to stay in urban areas, many more stay illegally. There are estimated to be over 100,000 self-settled refugees in Zambia who have never registered with the authorities. Currently there are no legal mechanisms for them to acquire legal citizenship.

Credit-based interventions Three types of credit-based intervention have been implemented in Mayukwayukwa settlement: fertilisers and seeds, oxen loans and live-



ambia has been a generous host to Angolan refugees. The arrival of the first 4,000 Angolan refugees in Zambia in 1996 led to the establishment of two refugee settlements, Mayukwayukwa in Western Province and Lwatembo in North Western Province. Both were designed as agricultural settlements where each refugee household was allocated 2.5 hectares of land. Until the arrival of a new influx of refugees fleeing renewed fighting in 2000, Mayukwayukwa’s population had remained largely stable for several decades. Prior to the signing of the Angolan peace agreement in 2002 the population reached 26,000. Some have now begun to repatriate.

stock apprenticeship schemes, and cash credit. This paper examines lessons learned from this last type. In early 2003 the Mayukwayukwa community appointed a loan committee – comprising three women and three men – to be responsible for all decision making. CORD and the committee signed an agreement stating that funds belong to the committee on condition of full transparency of receipts and disbursements. Funds collected are rotated within Mayukwayukwa refugee settlement and do not return to CORD. The only funds not rotated are 50% of the interest collected on the loans; this is given to the committee as an incentive. The credit model is based on standard solidarity group lending principles to encourage group dynamics. The groups consist of 20 members with half the group receiving a loan. Upon

FMR 20 successful repayment by the first half of the group, the second half will receive their loans. It is assumed that the first half will then apply pressure on the second half to repay in order to enable the first group to access a second, slightly larger loan. The phased rotation of funds within the group is expected to continue until the individual entrepreneurs are in a position to manage a sustainable business. Each individual must submit a business plan and application form to be assessed by the committee. Upon approval, the first ten members of the group receive a loan. At least half of each group must be women. The first loan is equivalent to US$50, subsequently increasing to $100, $150 and $200. The loan period is three months with repayments every two weeks after an initial grace period of one month. The interest rate is 3% per month, giving an interest charge of 9% on the full loan amount over the three months. Individuals with existing businesses and innovative business ideas are encouraged to apply. Businesses are mainly in the form of buying and selling fish or foodstuffs such as cassava in the local markets. Other business ideas have included establishing small cafés, carpentry groups and bakery stalls.

Credit-based livelihood interventions in a Zambian refugee camp Among the challenges facing the Mayukwayukwa scheme are: ■ The low overall repayment rates – to date, about 35%, compared with Nangweshi (where CORD is working) where repayment rates are 95%. ■ Most of those who were participants in the scheme and who have returned to Angola left without full repayment. ■ The repatriation process opened up by the declaration of peace in Angola in 2002 has made it difficult to obtain repayment as refugees want to conserve resources before going home. ■ Limited access to markets – permits are required to leave the camp, the nearest town is a twohour drive and lack of public transport makes getting goods to market prohibitively expensive. A refugee truck managed by the community partially alleviates this problem but the nearest rural town also has limited purchasing power. ■ Collateral is not available: had collateral or savings been required to access loans most of the target group would have been excluded. ■ Controversy regarding provision of the incentive – CORD and the committee finally agreed on a performance-related financial incentive to motivate the committee to collect repayments: this runs the risk, however, of encouraging the committee to pressurise individuals and groups to pay. ■ Business development: while CORD provided training in establishing a small business and loan applicants submitted business plans, the post-loan follow up focused more heavily on repayment rather than business development; it is beneficial to appoint someone purely to provide business advice and development. ■ Financial reporting by the loan committee: the committee struggled to reconcile the cash collected and did not always manage to reconcile loanees’ pass books to loan accounts; CORD took an active role in reviewing and providing support for financial reporting but needed to balance the need for close monitoring with the desire to empower the committee.


■ The short loan period dictated by the imminent possibility of repatriation: the fact that loans were initially given for three months with five subsequent fortnightly repayments encouraged short-term commercial enterprises rather than long-term productive ones.

Conclusion The scheme has been a success in so far as many refugees have gained practical experience of entrepreneurship and had an opportunity to become self-reliant. Groups that combined funds and worked together to set up a business have reaped the highest returns. All beneficiaries received training in ‘start your own business’ and have produced business plans. The microfinance scheme is being linked to CORD’s vocational training programme so that upon graduation the skills obtained can be put to use. Measuring ultimate impact will depend on evaluating whether skills are used in Angola in years to come.

The scheme has been a success in so far as many refugees have gained practical experience of entrepreneurship Poor access to markets poses a major constraint for achieving full benefits from microcredit activities. In Zambia, the actual and potential contribution of Angolan refugees to the Zambian agricultural sector and to improving food security is recognised. Despite this, however, restrictions on access to markets, trade and financial capital are still being enforced. We have come to realise that we can no longer be blind to the macro influences of policy, institutions and processes which affect refugee livelihoods. The challenge for humanitarian agencies engaged in microcredit provision is to discover how we can most usefully engage with national and international policy makers to create an enabling environment for sustainable livelihoods.

Jane Travis ( is a Programme Officer of CORD ( She compiled this article with CORD colleagues from Zambia and Tanzania and with material from Oliver Bakewell, independent consultant.


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Microfinance and refugees by Dominik Bartsch

Over the past decade or so, microfinance has assumed an increasingly important role in the drive towards the economic and social empowerment of refugees.


icrocredit and savings schemes are operated in a number of refugee situations, ranging from camp-based local integration programmes to interventions for urban refugees and support to returning refugees in the context of reintegration and rehabilitation programmes. However, only limited analysis is available on the effectiveness of microfinance as a tool in promoting refugee livelihoods. Short of answering this question empirically, the following four pointers contain lessons learned from field operations and offer a glimpse of some of the underlying difficulties in operating microfinance interventions effectively in the refugee context. ■ Microfinance rests on the notion of group solidarity to replace what in commercial banking would be a material form of surety. While such solidarity is in strong evidence in cohesive rural communities (such as the Bengali village women served by the microfinance pioneer, the Grameen Bank) it is the least developed amongst refugee caseloads comprising multiple nationalities and diverse ethnic backgrounds. Solidarity as a social glue, after all, is closely linked to residency or geographical belonging and that is precisely the weak part in any refugee’s life. One may even conclude that the trauma of displacement acts as an outright deterrent to the concepts of solidarity and community. Much as some long-standing refugee settlements, especially in Africa, may resemble homogenous communities, they usually have not brought about the type of cohesion conducive to mutual monitoring and, perhaps more importantly, the imposition of social sanctions against defaulters. This problem is

all the more prevalent amongst multi-ethnic urban refugee caseloads that tend to be very mobile, even across borders (vide irregular movements in Southern Africa). ■ Microfinance has evolved into a discipline in its own right, much more closely related to banking than to relief. Without the necessary technical experience in ‘banking for the poor’, only scant attention will be paid to key financial benchmarks. A repayment rate of 50% may thus be considered quite acceptable by a generalist project administrator although best practice would demand much higher rates of around 95% and indeed complete sustainability within a couple of years to cover all administrative costs. Although UNHCR does not implement microfinance programmes directly but engages implementing partners to administer them, these interventions are still considered to be part and parcel of an overall relief programme. This perception is shared by refugee beneficiaries who look upon UNHCR as the purveyor of discretionary assistance and would therefore find it difficult to accept hard and fast repayment rules, far less be able to comply with them. Faced with this moral hazard, UNHCR and its partners may quickly relent when, for instance, negotiating interest rates below market rates. No surprise, then, that such loans appear to mutate into grants over time – which begs the question why the intervention was not designed as grant aid in the first place.

likely to benefit from microfinance are those already endowed with business acumen and, often enough, sufficient resources to sustain themselves. By contrast, the ones who are most likely to fail with their ventures and default on their payments are precisely those whom UNHCR would want to help the most: vulnerable cases such as widows or single mothers. This clash of business versus charity is probably irreconcilable in the refugee context and it often produces a veritable mismatch between intended and actual beneficiaries.

This clash of business versus charity is probably irreconcilable in the refugee context

■ The underlying contradiction between banking and relief also extends to the selection of beneficiaries. The clients who are most

■ Microfinance is but one element in the facilitation of refugee self reliance and the promotion of sustainable livelihoods. To be successful, it needs to be supported by other targeted interventions such as business training and, most importantly, an enabling environment. Government restrictions on refugee mobility, for instance, directly impact on market access for refugee products and may therefore constitute a much bigger obstacle than the cost of financing. Indeed, any one of the numerous regulatory requirements (such as work permits and business licences) can very easily nullify the prospects for what otherwise may have been a sound business proposition. For microfinance to achieve its true potential in the refugee context, it needs to be embedded in a thorough understanding of what constitutes the most viable avenue for self reliance. In practice, however, it is all too often pursued as a ‘quick fix’ to jumpstart refugee livelihoods. Dominik Bartsch is Senior Policy Officer in the Evaluation and Policy Analysis Unit of UNHCR. Email: The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR. This article was first conceived in 2002 and UNHCR has since that time developed a comprehensive microfinance policy.


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Recapitalising Liberia: principles for providing grants and loans for microenterprise development by John Tucker, Tim Nourse, Rob Gailey, Dave Park and Stephan Bauman


n previous post-conflict contexts, donors and practitioners have successfully provided grants and loans to affected populations to spur economic growth and reconstruction, promote the sustainable return of refugees and rehabilitate ex-combatants. However, recent experience demonstrates that if the provision of grants and loans is not well-managed, well-intentioned donors and practitioners can undermine the development of a healthy credit culture, delay the transition from relief to development and harm communities in the long run. This note is offered as a practical tool for donors and practitioners working in post-conflict situations to maximise the positive impact from both grant and loan programmes for microenterprise development. These principles, based on emerging best practices from development and post-conflict environments, are designed to promote rapid reconstruction while laying the foundation for economic growth. This note was developed by donors and practitioners for use in Liberia, as a test case to see if cooperation among stakeholders will lead to the proper use of grant and credit interventions.

Appropriate criteria for grant or credit programmes In relief situations, both grant and credit programmes can be appropriate tools to help economically active poor people begin or expand businesses. However, the two interventions are not interchangeable and should not be mixed.1 Grant programmes quickly infuse capital to the entrepreneur without a repayment burden and require only moderate institutional capacity among implementing organisations. However, they serve a limited number of people and can negatively impact the credit culture if relied upon too extensively. Credit pro-

grammes have the potential to sustainably provide large numbers of entrepreneurs with capital but require strong institutional capacity to implement effectively. When deciding which type of intervention to fund/implement, donors and practitioners should consider the programme goal, operating environment, institutional capacity of the implementing organisation and the programme/funding horizon. Grant programmes are appropriate when: ■ the main goal of the programme is enterprise development for special populations – such as vulnerable women, ex-combatants and youth – who cannot manage microcredit loans effectively and/or to further such non-economic goals as ethnic reconciliation and house reconstruction ■ the operating environment is unstable (some population mobility, high inflation) and the target population does not operate businesses, cannot access markets and/or is located in remote areas ■ the implementing partners have community and microenterprise development experience but do not have the desire or capacity to conduct longer-term, more sophisticated microfinance programmes ■ the programmes and funding horizon are short term (one year or less) Credit programmes are appropriate when: 2 ■ the main goal is general enterprise development for entrepreneurs who lack access to capital and can manage microcredit loans effectively ■ the operating environment is stable (good security, little population mobility, low inflation) and the target population operates

businesses, can access markets and has the capacity to repay ■ the implementing institution has moderate to strong capacity and a focus on financial services or microenterprise development programmes ■ the programmes and funding horizons are long term (minimum of three years) In the immediate aftermath of conflict grant programmes may in many cases be more appropriate. However, as the situation stabilises and the general economic status of the population improves, the emphasis should change from grants to loans.

Development of the Sierra Leone Microfinance Sector In 2001, Sierra Leone emerged from a devastating ten-year civil war. With peace, many credit programmes were begun to help entrepreneurs recover from the war. Though some performed well, most suffered from poor targeting, unqualified staff, unsuitable products and insufficient systems to recover loans. In 2003, a UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) assessment mission found that prior ‘credit’ programmes with weak repayment had created widespread client and practitioner confusion about credit. This was slowing the development of the microfinance sector and thus the pace of reconstruction.

Principles for implementing grant programmes ■ Use grants as one-offs to avoid dependency and encourage investment: a series of grants can encourage dependency (as

Recapitalising Liberia: principles for providing grants and loans for microenterprise development beneficiaries come to expect handouts) and may serve as a disincentive for investment – since consuming, rather than investing the grant, will be rewarded with an additional grant. ■ Separate grants from loans to avoid confusing clients: if unavoidable, the two activities should be separated by using different staff, targeting different populations and using clearly defined messages to present the products either as grant or loans.

■ Coordinate with credit programmes to facilitate long-term financing for clients: a direct process of graduation to a credit programme or by recommendation can encourage good grant clients to aspire to be recognised entrepreneurs eligible to gain sustainable financing for their businesses.

■ Accompany grants with advice: to increase the chances of effective investment, grants should be complemented by training and/or mentoring by knowledgeable staff.

Global microfinance best practice lessons apply and work in reasonably stable post-conflict situations after the immediate post-conflict stage3. Accordingly, the guiding principles set out below focus on the selection criteria that donors and practitioners should use, rather than the implementation principles themselves.4 Nevertheless, considering the difficulty and expertise required to implement effective and sustainable microfinance in developing countries, and the institutional weakness normally found in post-conflict countries, donors and practitioners should pay particular attention to meeting the selection criteria before funding or proposing microfinance interventions.

■ Require contributions or demonstrated commitment: to ensure that the beneficiary is serious about the business, grants should be contingent upon meeting certain requirements or making a contribution. ■ Distribute contingent grants in two stages: the beneficiary must demonstrate proper use of a small initial grant, have attended training and/or developed a business plan before receiving the full grant amount. ■ Require recipients of contribution grants to provide cash or in-kind inputs of at least 10% of the value of the project.

Tim Nourse


Principles for implementing credit programmes

Any institution or international technical support agency receiving support for credit/savings activities should be able to demonstrate compe-

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tency or strong promise of potential in the following areas:5 ■ Institutional strength: sound institutional culture with a mission and vision able to expand microfinance services to low-income clients; management and information systems that provide accurate and transparent financial reports according to internationally recognised standards and efficient operating systems. ■ Quality service and outreach: focus on serving low-income clients and on expanding client reach and market penetration; financial services that meet the needs of the clients; capacity to adapt services to meet the distinct needs of entrepreneurs in post-conflict situations (less trust, greater mobility, decapitalised businesses, more conservative coping strategies). ■ Sound financial performance: interest rates on loans sufficient to cover the full costs of efficient lending on a sustainable basis, low portfolio in arrears and low default rates, and a plan for a diversified funding base for microfinance operations to minimise dependency on donor subsidies. ■ Reporting: all recipient institutions must have a system for reporting regularly on the quality of their services, outreach and financial performance, including annually audited financial statements.

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Recapitalising Liberia: principles for providing grants and loans for microenterprise development

Next steps Post-conflict countries such as Liberia offer the opportunity to meet the immediate needs of conflict-affected populations while building the foundation for a vibrant entrepreneurial sector that will help fuel long-term growth and stability. However, the threat also exists that a large influx of relief money, improperly directed into grant or loan programmes, will not be absorbed properly and will create dependency or a poor credit culture. The principles in this paper

offer a starting point for donors and practitioners to begin coordinating their activities and thus to help ensure that funds both further short-term reconstruction and gain long-term returns. This note has been developed by John Tucker (UNCDF www.uncdf. org), Tim Nourse (American Refugee Committee www.archq. org), Rob Gailey and Dave Park (World Relief and Stephan Bauman (World Hope

Beyond the suggestions made in this paper relating to grant and credit programmes, donors and practitioners should also consider complementary interventions to improve the climate for enterprise development. Many entrepreneurs have difficulty not due to a lack of capital but due to a lack of skills or access to markets, information and technology. Business development skills programmes help entrepreneurs overcome these gaps and increase profits. Post-conflict situations provide the opportunity to reform what were often poorly functioning sectors in the first place. Legal reforms and regulatory strengthening can significantly improve the environment for providing financial services by commercial banks and other entities.

International www.worldhope. org). Comments may be sent to and The views are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of their institutions. 1. Microcredit Menu, CGAP Focus Note #20. 2. Doyle, Karen ‘Microfinance in the Wake of Conflict’, The SEEP Network, 1998; Larson, Dave ‘MBP Microfinance following Conflict, Technical Briefs’, DAI 2000 l/14553 3. ILO/UNHCR Technical Workshop: ‘Microfinance in Post-Conflict Situations: Towards Guiding Principles for Action’, by Geetha Nagarajan, 1999. 4. The CGAP ( website is a good resource for implementation principles. 5. ‘Small and Micro Enterprise Finance Guiding principles for Selecting and Supporting Intermediaries’, Committee of Donor Agencies for Small Enterprise Development, and as adopted in the UNDP Programme Manual, Chapters 4.3.5 and 6.4.6, and the related annexes employment/ent/papers/financgd.htm

Food aid and livelihoods: challenges and opportunities in complex emergencies

by Valerie Guarnieri

While the first priority of the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) is to provide food aid to avert starvation, there is a growing recognition that more lives could be saved in the longer term by extending the focus of humanitarian assistance to include those at risk of losing their assets. Livelihood support activities must be based on careful analysis, sound programming and strong partnerships.


eople affected by crises are not passive victims. To survive and recover they rely primarily on their own capabilities, coping mechanisms, resources and networks. They move in with family members or send their children to do so. They draw down on savings or take loans, move their herd to an area where there is adequate grazing land, switch to

drought-resistant crops or send a breadwinner to find work elsewhere. Even in areas experiencing protracted conflict and forced displacement, many people continue to try to pursue livelihoods and economic activities – whether in rural villages terrorised by rebel militias, urban areas inundated with displaced people or refugee camps.

Many of the strategies that people employ in order to meet their current food needs or preserve their assets undermine their health and wellbeing, jeopardising their ability to meet future food needs and to cope with further crises. Crisis-affected people often eat fewer, smaller and less nutritious meals in order to make what they have last longer without depleting their assets. Once displaced people lose access to their primary means of living, as well as ties and networks on which they would normally rely in times of stress, they are sometimes forced to turn to illegal forms of income generation, such as prostitution, theft or trafficking. Women and woman-headed households face particular risk from negative coping strategies. Women are most likely to bear the brunt of food shortages, affecting their health as


Food aid and livelihoods: challenges and opportunities in complex emergencies well as the health and long-term potential of their unborn or young children. They often assume new responsibilities for their families’ safety and economic well-being and security, as their husbands seek employment elsewhere or are conscripted into armed forces. Girls are the first to be pulled out of school or face early marriage when household livelihoods are at risk, and women may risk sexual abuse or enter into prostitution to protect their families’ lives and livelihoods. Protecting and supporting livelihoods as an early component of an emergency response can: ■ be instrumental in safeguarding food security and people’s productive capacity ■ build recovery into the emergency response ■ contribute to reducing relief dependency ■ reduce agency costs: by the time people need relief to survive, their livelihoods are often already lost and thus they have greater and longer reliance on relief ■ be more participatory, responding to what the beneficiaries want and addressing community priorities. Options for food aid interventions in situations of forced migration are wide-ranging and often include distributions of full or partial food rations to the entire affected population or targeted sub-groups and support for nutrition programmes. To protect or rebuild livelihoods, innovative programmes provide food-for-work (to support agricultural production, restore productive, social or transport infrastructure and promote environmental recovery), food-for-training and/or school feeding activities. For such activities to be successful, they need to be tailored to the specific context and to address priorities identified by the beneficiaries, preferably by involving them in programme planning as well as implementation. In Colombia food aid encourages IDPs to participate in activities focusing on restoring productive and social infrastructure as well as in training and capacity-building activities meant to

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increase their income-earning potential. WFP’s experience in Colombia has shown that IDPs are reluctant to invest in the development or rehabilitation of fixed assets when they fear that they will be displaced again. In this situation food-for-training – especially when it equips IDPs, who are largely from rural areas, with skills to enable them to better compete in urban labour markets – is well received. As a result, WFP has largely phased out its food-for-work programmes until viable resettlement is possible. In Ethiopia food-for-work has successfully been used to rehabilitate land surrounding former refugee camps. Projects involved both refugees who were permanently resettling and members of their host communities. Participants were involved in site selection as well as in the food for work activities. Timing of the projects was key; WFP found that there was increased incentive to participate in the project when the food-for-work programmes were launched as fullration free food distributions were being phased out. Moreover, when similar programmes were launched in other areas involving refugees who were still encamped, with little prospect of permanent settlement in the area, there was little involvement. Understandably, the refugees were more interested in engaging in rehabilitation activities when they realised that they, and their new communities, would benefit.

Limitations to protecting livelihoods While it is increasingly recognised that humanitarian assistance should be used, as much as possible, to support livelihoods as a part of life-saving strategies, livelihood support is not without its challenges. It could make things worse and place beneficiaries at further risk as any form of humanitarian assistance, when introduced into a complex emergency typically characterised by a resourcestrained environment, can play into the dynamics of the conflict. Food aid, as a very visible form of aid, may be particularly subject to manipulation. Assistance can affect the balance of power and may ultimately exacerbate or prolong a

WFP/Antonia Paradela


crisis even when it is effective in saving lives and alleviating suffering.

targeting is as much a political issue as it is technical This poses a number of challenges for WFP staff and other humanitarian workers. These include ensuring that sufficient aid is provided to people

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Food aid and livelihoods: challenges and opportunities in complex emergencies date with changes is particularly difficult when emergencies involve people on the move. Displaced people are often spread over a large area and the refugee registration process may be politicised and lead to double counting. Lack of strong public institutions or reliable government counterparts results in serious information gaps, doubts about the reliability of data and difficulty in verifying information, particularly in the initial stages of an operation. New biometric techniques, including iris recognition and finger printing, are being piloted and show promise in introducing increased rigour into the registration process but need to take into account any cultural implications. Targeting assistance to the most needy is always challenging, particularly when the aid criteria are at odds with local resource-sharing traditions, when authorities attempt to channel food aid in a way that addresses political or military objectives and where insecurity is high. When aid agencies try to target aid to IDPs or refugees without taking into account the needs of the host or surrounding communities, there may be resentment. Indeed, targeting is as much a political issue as it is technical, and the choices made can have serious impact on the effectiveness of the assistance, its side effects and the security risks faced by beneficiaries and staff. Ways of addressing it have included ensuring transparency in the planning and implementation of the distribution so that everyone knows who is being targeted and why. In some urgent situations, it may be necessary to provide additional food such that minimum needs are met even if there is some leakage to those who were not targeted.

Boy gathering local cereal, North Shewa, Amhara region, Ethiopia

who need it, when and where they need it; that the provision of aid is carried out in an efficient and safe manner for both staff and beneficiaries; and that relief interventions not only meet the beneficiaries’ immediate needs but also do no harm. Determining the number of people in need of assistance and the level of assistance required and keeping up to

Refugee and some internal displacement situations provide both serious constraints and potential opportunities for supporting livelihoods. Refugees and IDPs often have limited access to land, livestock, jobs or other sources of livelihood during their time of refuge, thus limiting their ability to pursue livelihood strategies. Security may also be an issue. Refugees in camps located near national borders may risk attack or conscription and access for aid workers may be difficult. Women face particular risk of abuse in implementing their livelihood strategies.


Despite these challenges, the existence of a UNHCR-led coordination structure in refugee camps to bring food and non-food assistance together under a common strategy could permit close linkages among sectors and better promote livelihood interventions. In addition, most refugee camps have functioning markets and some opportunities for labour – within the camp if not outside – which can support livelihood strategies. For instance, a recent WFP case study in Guinea found that refugees can be engaged as skilled and unskilled labour in support of the relief effort (setting up tents, building health centres and sanitation systems or making bricks for sale to relief agencies). They can trade with other refugees or the host population (offering services or selling produce cultivated in small gardens, fish or processed goods) or can participate in small income-generation activities (such as tailoring or bread-making). The WFP–UNHCR Memorandum of Understanding, most recently updated in September 2002, highlights the importance of efforts to support asset-building activities and encourage the self-reliance of beneficiaries, which is a step in the right direction. Food aid, however, is not always the most appropriate resource when seeking to preserve assets or support livelihoods. Livelihood interventions must be based on careful analysis of the current availability and accessibility of food for crisis-affected people, the impact that the crisis has had on men’s and women’s assets and livelihood strategies, and the role that food aid could play in both preserving assets and meeting household consumption needs. It is also important to take into account the impact that food aid would have on the policies, institutions and processes that influence livelihood strategies, particularly markets. Where food is available on the market and people simply do not have the means to gain access to it without depleting essential assets, cash interventions may be a preferred mode of response.

Implications for programming Programming livelihood support assistance in complex emergencies requires:


Food aid and livelihoods: challenges and opportunities in complex emergencies ■ understanding how risks engendered by conflict make household livelihood systems vulnerable: political analysis of war economies is critical to analyse the violent processes that distort the environment in which livelihoods are pursued and livelihoods outcomes are realised ■ linking pre-emergency interventions to emergency response: early warning, contingency planning, vulnerability analysis and both emergency and longer-term programmes must be coordinated to improve community resilience to risks ■ using community-based indicators to track changes in vulnerability over time (such as asset sales, changes in food security status, increase in school drop-out rates and malnutrition levels and changes in overall health status)

WFP/Tom Haskell

■ integrating livelihood assessments into emergency needs assessments: this involves documenting the A staff member livelihood strategies that women evaluates the and men are pursuing, the assets state of crops at a that they rely on for their liveliWFP food-forhoods and the policies, institutions work project site, Guinea. and the processes that influence

their ability to pursue coping strategies ■ differentiating the strategies adopted and the risks faced by men and by women ■ ensuring that emergency interventions take place early enough to reduce the need for negative coping strategies: this will require quicker and more predictable access to funding and local knowledge ■ better advocacy on behalf of those at risk of losing livelihoods: situations where food assistance plays an important role in preserving assets and supporting livelihoods may require a larger quantity of food aid than those meeting immediate survival needs ■ humanitarian agency staff should know and be able to incorporate into advocacy messages when food aid is an appropriate response and when it is not ■ ensuring that all staff have the capacity to conduct participatory assessments, design and implement effective programmes, monitor the impact of their activities and incorporate gender considerations.

FMR 20 Strong partnerships are essential with organisations that understand the needs of communities and are open to a livelihoods approach. WFP should proactively bring partners into its assessment, analysis and programme design processes. Partnerships with international and local NGOs with expertise in emergency livelihoods support should be encouraged. WFP should also seek partnerships with governments, UN agencies and NGOs that can complement non-food resources with the food resources provided by WFP. Valerie Guarnieri is a senior policy analyst and the leader of the Relief and Recovery Team in the Division of Policy, Strategy and Programme Support in the UN World Food Programme. Email:

The Forced Migration Online team at the RSC has produced a resource page on Livelihoods complementing the theme of this issue of FMR at: browse/thematic/livelihoods.htm


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Livelihoods of former deportees in Ukraine by Greta Uehling

Has UNHCR been effective in promoting selfreliance through income-generating programmes in southern Ukraine? What can be done to improve self-reliance in Ukraine and other ex-Soviet members of the Commonwealth of Independent States?


ince independence in 1991, Ukraine has sought to restructure its economy in the midst of galloping inflation, rampant unemployment and widespread corruption. The country has received returnees from places of former exile and refugees from areas of conflict. Largescale population movements in the context of market reforms have created a difficult environment for maintaining livelihood security.

Refugees and Formerly Deported Persons in Ukraine The Crimean Tatars are a Turkic people who inhabited the Crimean peninsula for more than seven centuries prior to being unjustly accused of collaboration with the invading Germans and deported en masse in 1944. Since the late 1980s, a quarter of a million Crimean Tatars have returned to the Ukraine – and a similar number remain in exile in Central Asia, especially in Uzbekistan.1 Some Tatars who returned were refugees from war-torn areas in Central Asia and the Caucasus. The rest were classified as Formerly Deported Persons (FDPs) many of whom were stateless. The scale of unemployment (reaching 70% in some areas) and the extent to which the informal economy has had to be relied upon for subsistence, underscore the need to support self-reliance among this highly vulnerable forced migrant population. Self-reliance has presented a number of difficulties. Most of the regions in which the Tatars were allowed to

resettle lacked paved roads, easy access to public transportation and employment or commercial opportunities. The reluctance of local officials to give residence registration (propiska) has meant many are not authorised to accept formal sector employment. Local fear of Muslims and xenophobia have tended to further isolate returnees from the labour market. These difficulties have had to be overcome while Ukraine dismantles its centralised economy.

Income-generating programmes in Crimea In 1998 the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) launched a programme for former deportees. Grants and loans were given for purposes ranging from the purchase of a cow to more ambitious projects such as small sewing businesses. When DRC closed its Crimea office, UNHCR stepped in and contracted a local implementing partner – the Tatar Lawyers League in Crimea (Initium) – to monitor the existing portfolio and generate new projects. When UNHCR in turn closed its Crimea office in August 2002, it proposed transferring responsibility for the microcredit programme to UNDP but later re-established a partnership with Initium when UNDP concluded that the project’s mixed portfolio and history of default made the local microcredit environment too risky.

accept payment confused the beneficiary population. When Initium again took charge there was little discipline to repay loans. The mixed grant and loan portfolio fostered an attitude of dependency, reducing rather than enhancing self-reliance. Beneficiaries alleged that when they had visited the UNDP office to make payments they were told that they should consider their loan to be a humanitarian grant.

The challenges of a damaged credit environment When providing loans Initium charges a once-off, up-front ‘humanitarian instalment’ of 15% which goes into a revolving fund. While this approach is generally well received by beneficiaries – many of whom have had negative experiences with traditional banks – some viewed the NGO as a kind of protection racket. To recipients unfamiliar with Western banking practices the 15% charge appeared to be not the cost of credit but the price of ‘protection’ from Initium. Initium has discovered that the most successful loans are those that go to individuals who already have established businesses they wish to expand. A wedding dress maker and a business that made professional business cards were recently issued follow-on loans. The strategy most likely to enhance the NGO’s sustainability (lending to experienced borrowers and established entrepreneurs) is at odds with the goal to provide credit to the most vulnerable refugee and FDP beneficiaries.

there was little discipline to repay loans

The period during which neither Initium nor UNDP were authorised to

Initium accepts delayed repayment and has only written off two out of 49 loans. It now has a low quality portfolio. Repayment of all of the loans taken out in 2001 is more than 30 days in arrears. This can be contrasted with the general standards of microfinance institutions which suggest that loans subject to late


Livelihoods of former deportees in Ukraine payment of one day or more should not exceed 10% of the total portfolio. Sustainability is also low. Due to the slow repayment rate, Initium was unable to pay its loan officers – which resulted in their gradual departure. Today, having retained only the manager and the accountant on a part-time, voluntary basis, the organisation is ill-equipped to generate new loan activity. With few funds available, Initium has not attempted outreach. Most community members are under the impression that Initium no longer offers loans. This is a problem that further underscores the need to select professional partners with microcredit expertise

The separation of grants and loans is crucial Many beneficiaries continue to subsist on produce from kitchen gardens and barter and report no improvement in their ability to meet daily needs. What little income they have is either reinvested in business or used to cover increases in the cost of living. Due to poor planning some businesses have never managed to become operative. The design of a macaroni factory failed to meet sanitary requirements and miscalculations meant that other businesses were bought sewing equipment but not fabric because Initium had run out of funds.

In Ukraine: ■ Many businesses have failed as a result of unforeseen shocks: family illness, death or car crashes have led to diversion of loans to immediate needs; clients have not had the financial reserves to remain in business, suggesting that what returnees really needed was not credit but relief. ■ The tax and regulatory environment is not business-friendly: for some, simply paying the price of registering the business is prohibitive. ■ Loan recipients’ enterprises sometimes lack official status, making them precariously dependent on powerful patrons. One woman opened a seaside café but fell out with a local official who wanted to be a business partner; she was

threatened and prevented from operating by racketeers. ■ Beneficiaries need assistance in a complex tax and regulatory environment; many complain that paying all taxes required would bankrupt them.

Lessons learned The experience of microcredit in the Crimea suggests that: ■ Future efforts to enhance livelihoods must more directly address the specific technical assistance needs of FDPs who are not just new to the region but also unfamiliar with banking and business. ■ Microfinance initiatives must communicate a clear vision and be clearly defined. ■ The separation of grants and loans is crucial to ensure that beneficiaries receive the right message about their rights and responsibilities – grants and loans must be provided by different institutions. ■ Efforts to facilitate sustainable livelihoods must be complemented by pressure on officials to grant residence rights and business permits. Without such advocacy, returning forced migrants will continue to be excluded from mainstream economic activities and then blamed for dependence. ■ In transitional economies like Ukraine’s, intensive monitoring and oversight are required to educate a beneficiary population conditioned not only by Soviet reporting practices and ‘double’ accounting but also by a mentality of entitlement. ■ The poorest and most vulnerable loan recipients – those least likely to repay loans on schedule – should be offered alternative programmes. ■ Receiving a loan in a corrupt business environment can hinder more than it helps if loan beneficiaries become targets of rackets and mafias. ■ Would-be entrepreneurs must be trained and given advice on tax, business skills, marketing and development of vocational skills and advocacy tools. Revolving funds and other assets should only be handed over to quali-

FMR 20 fied and experienced microcredit professionals who can meet the challenges that the Ukrainian business and microcredit environment presents. Effectively promoting microcredit requires a special knowledge and skill set. There is some reason for optimism. In the first half of 2003, Ukraine’s GDP increased by 7.5%. The hyperinflation of the mid-1990s has been tamed. The FDP target population has a significant proportion of educated and entrepreneurial individuals eager for opportunities to become self-reliant. While Crimea’s business environment is complex, conditions for small and medium enterprises are better than they were in the 1990s. The challenge is to replicate the success of some Crimean Tatar FDPs in the Crimean capital and to start promoting income-generating programmes in rural neighbourhoods lacking adequate roads, water supply, sewage and public transportation. Greta Uehling is a long-term consultant in UNHCR’s Evaluation and Policy Unit. Email: The Tatar Lawyers League in Crimea can be contacted at: 1. For information on the Crimean Tatars, see: and

Arabic edition of FMR The Editors wish to acknowledge their gratitude both to UNHCR’s Department of International Protection and to the agency’s Regional Bureau for Central Asia and South West Asia, North Africa and the Middle East (CASWANAME) for timely support which has tided us over while we endeavour to secure permanent funding for Nashrat al Hijra al Qasriyya. To subscribe to Nashrat al Hijra al Qasriyya, email:


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Protection versus promotion of IDP livelihoods in Colombia

by Antonio Hill

The widespread trend in the past decade towards a broader model of humanitarian relief has included ‘livelihoods protection’ as a preventive strategy to save lives. In Colombia, Oxfam GB and many other humanitarian agencies have pursued this strategy over the past five years in the form of productive packages – income-generation schemes – for displaced people.


his article assesses Oxfam’s experience with productive packages and the longer-term contribution of such assistance to sustainable livelihoods of displaced people. Cautioning against easy assumptions that livelihoods protection necessarily furthers livelihoods promotion, it raises the possibility that the use of livelihoods terminology detracts from the sustainable livelihoods approach and the realisation of other human rights. Finally, it argues that realising the right to a sustainable livelihood is a proper and necessary humanitarian objective in a context like Colombia. Pursuing this objective requires an explicit commitment on the part of humanitarian donors and NGOs.

Productive packages If productive livelihood assets can be preserved by preventing their sale in times of distress, the theory goes, then households can continue to use livelihoods strategies to cope with external shocks and avoid or postpone malnutrition, destitution or worse. In Colombia where displaced people may be rapidly stripped of most of their assets, rapid provisioning of productive assets can help individuals and households recover (or develop new) viable livelihood options. Rapid and well-conceived

income-generation support following displacement helps people avoid illegal or unsustainable strategies and is key to restoring human dignity. Furthermore, productive packages may help build long-term self-sufficiency – a first step towards sustainable livelihoods. The productive packages that Oxfam provides to IDPs consist of once-off or consecutive donations of tools, supplies and/or other assets and start-up inputs in a six- to twelvemonth project period. The exact content of the packages is determined on a case-by-case basis through a livelihoods self-assessment undertaken by the beneficiary families or collectives in consultation with Oxfam staff. This allows beneficiaries to decide which strategy they believe will be most successful based on recognition of their existing knowledge and skills and on their assessment of the conditions and opportunities in their new environment. For monitoring purposes, Oxfam divides the packages into two categories, according to the strategies pursued: ‘agriculture and livestock’ (typically including a mix of tools and equipment – seeds, fertilisers and other inputs; chickens or pigs; fishing nets, boats, motors and related equipment) and ‘other’ (often including initial commodity purchases for petty trading – wholesale crates of

fruits or vegetables for re-sale or tools, raw materials and other inputs for handicraft production or production of prepared foods for street vending). In 2002 to 2003, 385 productive packages were distributed amongst 550 families, and average cost of inputs provided was approximately 500,000 Colombian pesos (US$165) per family. Beneficiaries have used these to launch income-generating activities, drawing on previous skills and experience wherever possible to maximise possibilities for success. The packages have been provided to individual households as well as groups (predictably with greater difficulties experienced with the latter) and in rural as well as urban settings. Wherever possible, distribution of these packages is accompanied by relevant training, for example in basic accounting and gender roles in productive activities. In some cases, weekly grocery baskets (food aid) is also distributed to reduce the chance of recipients having to immediately sell productive assets to meet consumption needs. The productive package component is generally provided to those also receiving shelter/housing, health, hygiene, water or sanitation assistance. The programme primarily targets people within the first year following displacement, although up to 25% of programme funds are available to include community members not meeting this criterion.

Short-term versus long-term benefits Our evaluations show there is no doubt that productive packages have a clear, direct and demonstrable short-term impact on people’s lives. Their longer-term contribution to livelihoods is less clear. By and large, beneficiaries have failed to maintain,

Protection versus promotion of IDP livelihoods in Colombia

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let alone expand, levels of livelihoods assets. In the few cases where the initial investment had enabled a long-term process of accumulation this was clearly due to special skills or training that the individual/household had gained before displacement – showing that transferable human assets are a determinant of successful coping with displacement. Concluding that productive packages do not contribute to longer-term welfare would be premature, since such a judgement would be based on limited data. We have realised the need to collect data to help establish a picture of the livelihoods status of beneficiaries several years after displacement.1 A statistically significant comparative study between productive package beneficiaries and other displaced people in similar conditions would also be required in order to make meaningful judgements about the effectiveness of livelihoods protection strategies.2 But the question of whether or not current interventions really promote sustainable livelihoods for IDPs is only relevant if this is an express goal of the intervention. Current efforts that claim to support the livelihoods of IDPs and refugees – including many in Colombia – are often ambiguous about their overarching purpose. On the one hand, protecting livelihoods is expressly presented as a means to an end: saving lives or reducing food insecurity. In this view, protecting livelihoods is instrumental to an overriding ‘humanitarian imperative’. On the other hand, since the divide between protection and promotion becomes artificial on the ground, livelihoods protection is touted as a first step to longer-term self-sufficiency – and sustainable livelihoods. Ambiguous goals result in ambiguous outcomes. Further contributing to ambiguity is confusion regarding what, exactly, we mean by the term ‘livelihoods’. Significant effort and resources have been expended in the past decade defining, analysing and communicating the sustainable livelihoods approach, including principles, frameworks and a grab bag of tools and methods to improve the effectiveness of development practice. Underlying all this is an important attempt to put poor people at the centre and in (greater) control of development practice. This livelihoods approach has

Tony Admason/Oxfam


suffered the same fate as countless other conceptual frameworks in that understanding of the subtleties of the issues involved and relevance of its methodology are highly variable across different institutional contexts and communities of practice. In the humanitarian domain, a livelihoods approach “simply means emergency programming aimed at supporting livelihoods, as well as saving lives.”3 Assertions that “simply” providing certain commodities (food, cash, livestock, etc.) can promote livelihoods and/or self-sufficiency in the longer term can easily appear facile from the perspective of the sustainable livelihoods camp. Apart from this (significant) conceptual difference, the difference in practice between livelihoods protection and promotion of sustainable livelihoods relates more than anything else to whether it is considered an objective in itself. Naturally, the time-scale for programme planning, approaches used and ways of working also matter. But in the end, these depend on the decision to raise support to sustainable livelihoods to the level of a programme objective, on a par with saving lives, public health and/or other goals.

of legitimate humanitarian concern, (ii) the idea that long-term support and capacity building are impractical in emergency contexts, and (iii) the complexity of simultaneous programming for relief and development. In the Colombian context, at least, only the last of these stands up to scrutiny. Although a dominant interpretation of humanitarianism revolves around “…an essentially materialistic concern for physical welfare, manifested in the provision of a range of commodities such as food, water, shelter, and medicine”4, the most widely accepted principle of humanitarianism – humanity – includes a fundamental concern for all types of human rights, not only the right to life. Most Colombian IDPs suffered serious socio-economic deprivation and marginalisation long before they were forced to migrate. Many observers also point out that IDPs suffer most

The right to life is meaningless without the right to a livelihood

So what’s the hold-up? Three factors appear to conspire against elevating the right to a sustainable livelihood to the status of a legitimate humanitarian objective in contexts of protracted conflict: (i) the perception that such a commitment goes beyond the scope

after the first year of displacement, since it is then that they are cut off from state- and internationally-sponsored support, disillusioned by the prospect of extended displacement and/or re-settlement and affected most by post-traumatic stress and depression. A commodified humanitarianism that attends only to their right to life and security in the months after displacement ignores the wider violations of social, economic, civil and political rights that IDP suffer and thereby risks depriving

them of their full rights. The right to life is meaningless without the right to a livelihood. When the spectre of Plan Colombia was raised in the late 1990s, aid agencies braced themselves for a humanitarian crisis. With one of the world’s largest populations of IDPs, Colombia is in undoubtedly in crisis. Vast numbers of civilians and noncombatants are in need of humanitarian protection and relief. But it is difficult to characterise the situation as urgent (or as an emergency) in the sense that large numbers of people will lose their lives if action is not taken soon. Given the complexity of the conflicts in progress, there is no set of practical interventions that will clearly save lives on any meaningful scale in the short term. And, tragically, few people in Colombia – aid workers included – believe the conflict will end soon. In this context, humanitarians do have one thing going for them: time. Time

Protection versus promotion of IDP livelihoods in Colombia to analyse and plan what kind of interventions will provide relief and succour to IDPs over the medium and even long term. This is not to say that attention to immediate short-term needs is misplaced but rather that longer-term commitment to capacity building and empowerment is a practical option in the current context. Even if livelihoods protection is instrumental in securing people’s lives and security, promoting IDP livelihoods ultimately requires an approach rooted in the sustainable livelihoods tradition. IDPs in Colombia have humanitarian needs that can and should be addressed by both relief and development approaches. In the end, tackling the relief/development conundrum is the biggest challenge to a serious commitment to IDP livelihoods in Colombia. That is, how can relief and development approaches be linked to maximise the rights that IDPs enjoy? To be effective in max-


imising the realisation of people’s rights, each of these approaches requires recognition as a programme objective. We need greater clarity about the multiple objectives of our interventions and the most effective approaches for realising them.

Antonio Hill is Global Adviser, Programme Policy Team, Oxfam GB. Email: 1. For an example of such a long-term research initiative, see ‘Listening to the Displaced: Action Research in the Conflict Zones of Sri Lanka’, Oxfam Working Paper, 2000. See: S10bkd1g1.html 2. To the best of the author’s knowledge, no such studies have been undertaken in Colombia. 3. Young H et al ‘Food-security Assessments in Emergencies: A Livelihoods Approach’, ODI/HPN Network Paper 36, June 2001. documents/networkpaper036.pdf 4. Slim H ‘Relief Agencies and Moral Standing in War: Principles of Neutrality, Impartiality, and Solidarity’, Development in Practice, 1997, Vol. 7, pp345-352.

Toby Adamson/Oxfam

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Marketing refugee skills: an Oxford success story by Rachel Wiggans

Since 2001 Access First, a project of the Oxfordbased charity Refugee Resource, has been working in partnership with other organisations to support refugees and asylum seekers into work and training that match their abilities and aspirations. “I know people say asylum seekers come here to get money. Some people say asylum seekers don’t want to work. I really want to work but it’s not easy.”


t is fundamental to Refugee Resource that refugees and asylum seekers themselves shape our work. Access First grew out of a series of consultation workshops with refugees and asylum seekers and an advisory group made up of refugees has met quarterly throughout the project. The first task of the project was for a trained group of refugees and asylum seekers to interview 95 people in nine languages about their skills and aspirations. Working in partnership with other local organisations working with refugees has also been essential to the success pf the project and a project steering group has brought together representatives from five local statutory and voluntary organisations In December 2003 the first phase of the project was completed, with 64% of participants having entered paid work. Each individual had an initial interview to discuss appropriate support which could include any combination of: ■ a work preparation course ■ one-to-one advice and guidance ■ an unpaid work placement tailored to their individual objectives ■ using our resource area to access information about training and employment offered by other

agencies, local jobs and courses and study grants. Some clients visit us two or three times for support then pursue work independently. With others we work more intensively, for between two months and two years.

“Sometimes you get hated because you don’t speak the language. They look at you as though you are a very strange person. You just feel that you are isolated.”

In partnership with Oxfordshire County Council’s Community English School we developed a 60-hour work preparation course rooted in providing English language and basic computing training in an employment context. The course aims to prepare people for all aspects of work in Britain – preparation of personal statements and CVs, completing application forms and making presentations. Local employers have offered mock practice interviews and the tax office has visited to explain tax and UK social welfare insurance. Participants have been given an opportunity to learn about UK health and safety legislation and to obtain certification. Many have acquired a nationally-recognised computing certificate. This course was very successful and Oxfordshire County Council has now taken responsibility for it. It continues to be available to refugees and asylum seekers as well as to others improving their knowledge of English.

“I learned many things from this course: helping me to be more confident about filling in application forms, writing a personal statement, speaking in job interviews, listening to get information about work, looking at job advertisements, speaking confidently to people to get information about any things that I want.”

Unpaid work placements aim to: ■ give an understanding of how their chosen area of work operates in Britain ■ introduce trainees to people in the same area of work ■ increase confidence about pursuing that area of work ■ provide genuine work experience to help with future applications ■ provide work references Placements have been set up in retail, computer programming, office administration, mental health support and journalism. Placements have proven extremely successful; almost all those who have done one are now employed. “The refugees we have taken on have made excellent members of staff, with a willingness to learn and a willingness to achieve. Their reliability and ability to do the job has been first rate. … between them they have had only one day off sick.” Recruitment and Training Manager, Stagecoach (Oxfordbased transport company) Finding the right placement for an individual and setting it up for the benefit of both employer and trainee is time consuming, and Refugee Resource relies on good relationships with employers. The benefit is mutual and employers have praised us for the reliable committed people we

FMR 20

Marketing refugee skills: an Oxford success story to stay has been (at least temporarily) recognised and we see fewer asylum seekers. We hope that future funding will enable us to support this vulnerable group, at least with finding voluntary work. In April 2004 we started a new project for unemployed refugees and those asylum seekers who have permission to work. Rachel Wiggans is the Access First Coordinator. Email:

Reporting asylum and refugee issues: a guide to good practice

Refugee Resource

The PressWise Trust, the UK’s National Union of Journalists and UNHCR have produced a guide to enable journalists to report immigration and asylum issues accurately and fairly.

send them. Oxfordshire County Council, one of the largest employers in the county, has committed itself to collaborate with Refugee Resource in offering placements to refugees and asylum seekers — its Fire and Rescue Service has provided three placements and three jobs.

on refugee employment issues ■ assisting refugee health professionals – with voluntary help from Oxford medical students – to pass the English language and professional exams required to begin the process of them obtaining registration in the UK.

We are also involved in:

We are pleased that 36% of those we have worked with for an extended period have now entered full-time employment and a further 28% are working part time. When we began we were told by an analogous project in London not to expect a success rate higher than 30%.

■ countering racism and stereotypes: hostile comments from politicians and the media have a big impact on our clients. ■ administering a small bursary fund to help overcome barriers to employment due to inability to pay for fees, books, travel costs, childcare and equipment ■ running training events for employers and service providers

The decision of the UK government to prevent asylum seekers from working has meant that a greater proportion of our clients are refugees whose right

Acknowledging that journalists use shortcuts to convey information, the authors suggest precise, consistent and non-emotive definitions of key terms. It is particularly important not to equate ‘asylum seekers’ with ‘illegal immigrants’. It is inaccurate to characterise all those smuggled into the UK (hidden in lorries, etc) as ‘asylum seekers’ as some may have no intention of claiming asylum. Whilst the UK government dubs such people as ‘clandestines’, the term ‘irregular migrant’ is more accurate and less confusing. The media should stress that people-smugglers are committing a crime but their clientele may not be. Before they seek interviews with asylum seekers and refugees, journalists should be clear about their purpose, be sensitive to requests for anonymity and inform themselves about countries of origin. The leaflet is online at: 657 Hard copies can be ordered by emailing Among the useful web resources cited in the report is the BBC’s ‘asylum seeker jargon buster’, online at 80397.stm




Livelihoods strategies of urban refugees in Kampala by Michela Macchiavello

Some 15,000 refugees – escapees from wars in Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia – live in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, without UNHCR assistance. Rejecting residence in rural camps, they have chosen an environment in which they can use their skills to achieve self-sufficiency and dignity. ‘Let me live where I choose and then I can survive’ (Congolese refugee in Kampala)


ost of the urban refugees are either single men or single mothers with children. The majority of them have come to Kampala directly from their country of origin without having entered a refugee camp. Others may have spent considerable time in refugee camps. Both groups are drawn to Kampala by:

■ opportunities to trade and use their skills to offer services to better-off city residents ■ the presence of hospitals and private medical services ■ accommodation, schooling and vocational training ■ internet access to maintain contacts with relatives, transfer money and explore business opportunities

■ recreational and intellectual activities ■ opportunities for concealment from both the Ugandan authorities and from intelligence agents from their countries of origin who are known to monitor those who officially register their presence. Most urban refugees are educated urbanites – 70% of the sample interviewed had either finished or been attending secondary education prior to flight and 30% had a college or university qualification. Many are academics, researchers, engineers, teachers and musicians. There is a large number of secondary school students keen to complete their education. Refugees in Kampala refute the traditional image of refugees as a burden on the cost country. Over a third of the sample are economically selfsufficient, mostly working in the informal sector as artisans, tailors, hairdressers, traders in precious metal and diamonds and vendors of food and second-hand clothes. A quarter of refugees interviewed depend on remittances from relatives outside Uganda. Another 15% can be judged to be on the way to establishing viable livelihoods in Kampala.

UNHCR/P Kessler

Many Ugandans regard them with hostility, stereotyping refugees as economic parasites or collaborators with countries and factions which are the enemies of Uganda. Many employers exploit their refugee workers with impunity. The failure of Ugandan law to give refugees legal entitlement to work creates confusion which prevents would-be employers from using their skills. One in four of the refugees is struggling to survive, regularly unemployed or too ill to work. Many would like to start their own small business but struggle to find the initial capital.

FMR 20 Women are particularly successful at integrating into the local economy and sustaining their own livelihoods. Many are resourceful and entrepreneurial – selling charcoal, home-made clothes, dressing hair and growing vegetables. Those few who have received microcredit have generally managed to repay loans or have gone on to run successful enterprises. Most, however, are frustrated by lack of credit and are also held back by lack of fluency in English – the main language of commerce in Uganda.

consideration must be given to the non-economic benefits that refugees derive. Microfinance for the most vulnerable In 2000 UNHCR and an implementing partner started a microfinance scheme which soon collapsed due to failure to repay loans. UNHCR concluded that a non-UN organisation would be more likely to command respect and less likely to be regarded as a source of free assistance. The Jesuit Refugee Service established a scheme – primarily providing loans to vulnerable single mothers – which in its first year assisted 23 refugees. While its rate of repayment – just over 50% – is not generally regarded by microfinance specialists as a success, consideration must be given to the non-economic benefits that refugees derive. Instead of being regarded as shiftless, destitute and dishonest, they are given a psychological boost by being perceived as would-be entrepreneurs worthy of trust.

‘It does not matter what you tell them, they don’t believe you. You are a refugee and you are liar. Now I have asked for a loan here. They can see that my sister is sick. I hope I will get it.’ (Sudanese women interviewed at JRS office) Among the refugees who successfully repaid their microfinance loans is a Sudanese woman who had lost contact with her husband during flight and cared for her eight children alone. After struggling to get by as a nanny

Livelihood strategies of urban refugees in Kampala in a Ugandan home she tried making doughnuts for sale before going back to the refugee camp where she had lived. She cultivated her plot and was later able to sell her produce in Kampala; with a loan from JRS she set up a corner shop, repaid her loan and was able to send two of her children to school. After successfully applying for a second and larger loan she expanded the range of goods in her shop and is now hoping to send more of her children to school. The primary reason why many single mothers default on their loans is family illness, particularly malaria. A Rwandan woman with a degree in community health could not utilise her qualification in Kampala as she did not speak English. Thanks to a microfinance loan she started a profitable business selling second-hand shoes. She had already managed to repay half of her loan when she had to have an operation and, at the same time, two of her children contracted malaria. After settling the medicinal and hospital bills she was left with no funds to make her enterprise sustainable. Other refugees defaulted mainly because of lack of entrepreneurial experience, mismanagement of funds or sheer bad luck. Four Burundian women went to northern Uganda to buy a large quantity of cassava. Unfortunately, an outbreak of Ebola fever made it impossible to transport the cassava back to Kampala to be sold and it rotted.

JRS had far more applications than it could support. Because of the default rate the scheme was temporarily suspended, leaving those refugees with outstanding applications disappointed, angry and sad. The only other alternative available to them is the money lender, an option not affordable for them. A Congolese man with a degree in rural development had tried in vain to invest in a chicken business but like many was compelled to use the money for food and rent for his family. He had applied for a loan at JRS and his eyes glittered at the prospect of finally being able to run his chicken business and have some hope for the

future. When he learned about the scheme’s suspension he sank into depression and lost weight.

Conclusion Most of the urban refugees surveyed are capable of supporting themselves, either by establishing a lucrative livelihood or by receipt of funds from relatives and friends abroad. The evidence strongly suggests that further microfinance schemes could have a great impact on improving the life conditions of the highly vulnerable minority, particularly female-headed households. African governments and the international community need to: ■ provide assistance soon after refugees arrive in urban environments to enable them to successfully adjust and realise their earning potential ■ do more to build refugees’ managerial, vocational and entrepreneurial skills ■ offer English language training ■ provide assistance to vulnerable single mothers; if allowed to remain in a state of destitution they will be perceived as a burden by the local population ■ directly involve refugees in planning programmes aimed at promoting self-sufficiency ■ learn from the attempts of refugee communities to help themselves ■ agree how to define refugee selfsufficiency in order to better compare research results. Michela Macchiavello is an International Consultant for UNDESA in Accra, Ghana, on a joint project on Peacebuilding and Good Governance by The Scuola Superiore S. Anna in Pisa, Italy and the University of Ghana. Email: michelamacchiavello@ With Nuffield Foundation funding the author spent six months in 2001 in Kampala as an RSC research associate. For the main results of this study see UNHCR New Issues in Refugee Research Working Paper no 95, online at: .



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Survival to livelihood strategies for Mozambican refugees in South Africa by Frederick Golooba-Mutebi and Stephen M Tollman

Many Mozambican refugees in South Africa have managed to move on from initial short-term survival strategies to achieve long-term livelihoods.

One contingent of Mozambican refugees was dumped by the apartheid-era government in the former Gazankulu Homeland (now part of Limpopo Province). The government denied them refugee status, thereby blocking their right to assistance under international law. The Gazankulu authorities – aided by the goodwill and generosity of local people and charities – did what they could. Ultimately, however, refugees had to depend on their own ingenuity. Many took advantage of lack of restrictions on movement within South Africa to search for places of permanent settlement. One such place was Tiko village.1 Many refugees had relatives and friends across the border. Some came to Tiko at the prompting of recent migrants to South Africa who hired agents to smuggle them in. Relatives – usually migrant workers – played an important role in looking for paid employment, making efforts to secure positions for the newcomers at their own places of work. Some refugees headed for urban areas and towns illegally to join friends and relatives working there, finally returning to the rural settlements when the going proved too tough.

Author with two Mozanbican traditional healers

From survival to livelihood strategies In the early days, survival was ensured by the combined efforts of the Gazankulu government, churches, charitable organisations, local villagers and, in some cases, the refugees’ own efforts. However, with time, resources dwindled and locals overstretched their capacity for philanthropy. The refugees had to intensify their efforts to sustain themselves. To this day some of the refugees continue to lead a hand-tomouth existence. Others, however, have moved on and pursue long-term livelihood rather than short-term survival strategies. While many practise subsistence agriculture and animal husbandry, some work in the commercial farming sector either as seasonal or permanent labourers. Others are engaged in formal and informal sector non-agricultural activities – in tourism (mainly game reserves), mining and

Thando Mokoena


opulation movement between Mozambique and South Africa is an age-old phenomenon, the outcome of colonial oppression, political upheaval and the search for employment. The late 1980s witnessed a particularly heavy influx of Mozambicans fleeing civil war.

construction. Business and trading provide further opportunities. Some refugees own commuter taxis and it is claimed that the immigrants now dominate the local commuter taxi industry, thanks to their enterprise and solidarity. Petty trading is perhaps the most widespread informal sector activity. Many households buy and sell an assortment of merchandise including food items, handicrafts, firewood and liquor. Domestic service involving Mozambican women working for South Africans in Tiko and other villages provides an additional source of livelihood while refugee men accept poorly-paid work in construction which is rejected by South African men. A number of the Mozambican refugees practise various forms of traditional medicine. Some are registered with the national traditional healers’ organisation as specialists in specific ailments. Mozambicans are highly reputed traditional doctors, even among South Africans, and their services are much in demand. South Africa’s social security system is far-reaching, catering for old age

FMR 20 pensioners, the unemployed and other categories of the disadvantaged. In 1996, the new South African government granted amnesty to all citizens of the 14 member states of the Southern African Development Community under which long-time residents in South Africa could apply

Survival to livelihood strategies for Mozambican refugees in South Africa areas where living costs are high. They have opted to live in rural areas because of the opportunities for livelihood diversification and the wider scope for securing support when in difficulties. Mutual aid characterises the lives of refugees the world over and the Mozambicans in Tiko are no exception. Goods and services are regularly exchanged. Those lacking food and other essentials ask from neighbours, as do those lacking money. Women generally help each other with childminding.

Mutual aid characterises the lives of refugees the world over for permanent residence and, subsequently, citizenship. Many refugees took up the offer and acquired the necessary documentation – thus opening the way to accessing social security benefits. Others acquired citizenship through marriage to South Africans, bribing civil servants or paying South Africans to claim them as relatives. Remittances from relatives working in urban areas or in rural employment elsewhere – while not always regular or even sufficient to constitute an adequate basis for survival – are an important source of livelihood. Many refugees have consciously refrained from going to live or work in urban

“When I don’t have food, I go there [to a neighbour] and ask for a bucket of maize meal. I can also go there [to another neighbour] and ask, and cook for my children. We help each other.” Local shopkeepers extend credit facilities to many families, provided that they are employed or have a regular income and have a good repayment track record. In the absence of formal credit facilities, many would have experienced greater hardship.

Conclusion Although they left their country of origin against a background of great uncertainty, Mozambican refugees have managed to establish self-reliant and dignified lives in their new environment. In addition to pursuing familiar livelihood strategies they have taken advantage of available opportunities to craft new ones. Their experience reminds us that refugees are not always destined to be dependent on handouts. Left to their own devices, they are able to use their ingenuity to construct and maintain sustainable livelihoods. Frederick Golooba-Mutebi ( and Stephen M Tollman (tollmansm@sph.wits. work at the Agincourt Health and Population Unit, School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa: za/agincourt_hdss.htm 1. The village name is fictitious. The study is part of a project looking at livelihoods and well-being of Mozambican refugees and their hosts, supported by the Andrew Mellon Foundation in 2001-03.

The forgotten Palestinians: how Palestinian refugees survive in Egypt by Oroub El Abed

Some 50,000 Palestinian refugees live in Egypt without UN assistance or protection and burdened by many restrictive laws and regulations. Little is known about their plight and their unique status.


alestinians fled to Egypt after the wars of 1948, 1956 and 1967. Gazans employed as civil servants when the Gaza Strip was under Egyptian administrative rule and Gazan students in Egypt when it was occupied by Israel in 1967 were also prevented from returning home. Neither group of displaced Palestinians has been protected or

assisted either by UNHCR or by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) – the agency set up to assist Palestinian refugees which began operations in 1950. While UNRWA established relief and assistance projects in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, West Bank and Gaza, Egypt did not allow UNRWA to operate on its territories.

The rise to power of Gamal AbdelNasser in 1952 ushered in a golden age for Palestinians in Egypt. Palestinians were regarded as equal to Egyptian nationals and were able to access education and other state services and to work without restrictions. However, by the late 1970s the dispersed Palestinian communities in Egypt were increasingly affected by tensions between the Egyptian government and the Palestinian liberation organisation. The Camp David peace agreement and the assassination of Egypt’s culture minister by the Palestinian faction headed by Abu Nidal in 1978 proved a turning point. Laws and regulations were amended



The forgotten Palestinians: how Palestinian refugees survive in Egypt to treat Palestinians as foreigners. Rights to free education, employment and residency were rescinded. The state media projected negative images of ‘ungrateful’ Palestinians and accused them of having brought about their expulsion by their greed and willingness to sell their land to Zionists. As a result, many Egyptians believe that Palestinians are rich, economically powerful and influential and deserve neither sympathy nor assistance.

Palestinian rights in Egypt since 1978 University education, free for Palestinians under Nasser, now has to be paid for in foreign currency. Even those Palestinians entitled to exemption from paying 90% of the fees charged to foreign students are often unable to raise the remainder. Some Palestinians report forging birth certificates to indicate they are Egyptian in order to get free education. Others have initially paid the minimum fees that Egyptians pay, promising to pay the remaining foreign fees after graduation. Often they are unable to do so and are thus denied official accreditation. Due to their educational qualifications Egypt-based Palestinians were able to secure well-paid employment in the Gulf in the 1960s and 1970s. Palestinians were known as highly educated professionals and worked in medicine, commerce, engineering, teaching and management. Those who began professional careers prior to 1978 have been able to keep their posts. However, education restrictions

Young women have given up hope for an education mean they have not been joined by younger Palestinians. Many adolescent Palestinians have dropped out of school. Aware of the constraints on their livelihoods, many young men only aspire to learning a vocational skill or owning a shop. Young women have given up hope for an education and resign themselves to household duties and child-rearing. Public sympathy for Palestinians as a result of new hardships suffered since the outbreak of the current Al Aqsa intifada has recently led to the education authorities allowing Palestinian students to attend government schools

without paying fees. This has assisted a few but has done little to make up for the lack of education over the years. The private sector requires skills which, without education, Palestinians are unable to obtain. Private employers are required to obtain work permits for Palestinians and regulations restrict the number of ‘foreigners’ in any company to 10%. Palestinians are thus forced to work as truck or taxi drivers, unskilled or semi-skilled labourers, bicycle-repairers, street vendors of used clothing or itinerant ‘suitcase merchants’ carrying items from governorate to governorate. A minority of Palestinians are more fortunate. Employees of the PLO and former Egyptian civil servants are assured a regular income and have been able to send their children to public schools and are exempted from paying university fees. Palestinians are also affected by: ■ the risk of health emergencies: while basic health services for Palestinians in Egypt are satisfactory, most fear inability to pay for unexpected and costly medical operations and prolonged medication. ■ a 1976 law restricting foreigners from owning buildings and lands and a 1988 limiting ownership of agricultural land to Egyptians ■ strict residency requirements: renewal of permits is conditional on paying a fee and proving a reason to remain in Egypt – even though none of them can go back to Palestine. Palestinians unable to provide evidence of educational enrolment, a work permit, marriage to an Egyptian, a business relationship with an Egyptian or a bank balance of $5,000 are at risk of jail or deportation. ■ tight travel restrictions: if Palestinians spend more than six months out of Egypt their residency may be revoked. Those who need to reside abroad for one year are required to apply for a oneyear return visa which is invalidated if the holder does not return to Egypt before its expiry. Many Egyptian-born Palestinians are stranded in Arab states, living illegally and unable to return to Egypt. In 2001-2002 a student who

FMR 20 had studied in Russia spent 14 months shuffling between Moscow and Cairo airports before UNHCR managed to secure asylum in Sweden.

Who protects the rights of Palestinians in Egypt? In theory, UNHCR has a mandate to protect Palestinians living outside the five UNRWA areas of operation. However, Arab politicians have hampered UNHCR’s ability to provide protection. Arab states have argued that as the UN is responsible for Palestinian expulsion – the General Assembly Resolution 181 in 1947 approved the Partition Plan for Palestine – the UN has therefore an ongoing responsibility to develop mechanisms for repatriation and compensation. Allowing Palestinians to be protected by UNHCR would prejudice their case by encouraging third-country resettlement. Palestinians have been excluded from the protection of UNHCR, based on the fact that they receive assistance from UNRWA – regardless of the fact that only those who live within its five areas of operation are assisted. Only in September 2002 did UNHCR reinterpret Article 1D of the 1951 Refugee Convention in order to emphasise that Palestinian refugees are ipso facto refugees and are to be protected by UNHCR if the assistance or protection of the other UN body ceases. In light of this, it has included those Palestinians not living in the countries of UNRWA field operations within UNHCR’s protection mandate. In practice, however, UNHCR is still not doing much for Palestinians who do not come under the UNRWA mandate.

Conclusion Egypt is a signatory to the 1965 Casablanca Protocol1 and has ratified its articles designed to give Palestinians rights to residency, work and travel while emphasising the importance of preserving Palestinian nationality and maintaining refugee status. In 1981 Egypt additionally signed the 1951 UN Convention. In practice, neither document has been implemented. Egypt’s shifting policies towards its Palestinians have led to a gradual erosion of their rights. Regulations have marginalised Palestinians and reduced them to the

FMR 20 status of foreigners denied access to international bodies able to voice their needs. All the legal instruments of the UN and the Arab League have failed to protect the basic human rights of Palestinians, not only in Palestine but also in exile. If Egypt, and other Arab states, are to sincerely support the Palestinian refugee cause they must provide rights and access to services until such time as Palestinians are able to return.

The forgotten Palestinians: how Palestinian refugees survive in Egypt Oroub El Abed is an independent researcher based in Amman, Jordan whose focus is on Palestinian refugee issues in host countries. This paper is based on a two-year project undertaken in 2001-2003 under the auspices of the Forced Migration Refugee Studies Programme (FMRS) of the American University in Cairo fmrs and funded by Canada’s International Development

Research Centre ( It is adapted from a forthcoming book ‘Palestinians in Egypt: analysis of survival and livelihoods strategies’. For further information, contact the author: 1. For more information on the Casablanca Protocol and residency rights of Palestinians in Egypt and other Arab states, see : www.badil. org/Protection/Documents/Arab_States/Casablanc a_Protocol.htm and

Learning from empowerment of Sri Lankan refugees in India by K C Saha

Some 65,000 Tamil refugees from conflict in Sri Lanka live in 133 camps in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. As peace talks generate hope for their repatriation, the work of a self-help group, the Organization for Eelam Refugees Rehabilitation (OfERR), shows how refugees can equip themselves with skills to be used to rebuild their homeland.

authorities almost all refugee children attend school. There are currently 621 students from the refugee camps in universities in the state. In return for OfERR assistance with education expenses, the university students are obliged to provide tuition to other refugee students. A large number of refugee paramedics now serve fellow refugees in camps and also work in government primary health centres. Other OfERR projects include:


wo thirds of the refugees are Hindu and the remainder Christian. Almost all are from the conflict-affected areas of Sri Lanka’s Northern and Eastern provinces. Prior to fleeing to India in the 1980s or 1990s most refugee families were agricultural labourers or fishermen. Some came to India in their own fishing boats. The Tamil refugee population is young and many have spent most of their lives in exile. In addition to those living in government camps, an estimated 40,000 live outside them. Some of the refugee settlements in Tamil Nadu have fewer than ten people while others are home to thousands. Although India has not signed the 1951 Refugee Convention, it has given shelter to refugees from many countries. The Sri Lankans comprise India’s second largest refugee community. The dispersal of refugees around Tamil Nadu and their common language have eased their integration

into local communities and some have married and established local links. Refugees receive an assistance package provided by the central and the Tamil Nadu governments which includes a monthly cash grant, rice ration and free water and electricity. OfERR was set up by the refugees in 1984 and has headquarters in the Tamil Nadu capital Chennai and four regional offices. Its activities are funded by the European Union, the Jesuit Refugee Service, other Christian organisations and individual Sri Lankan expatriates, including students in the USA. Education has been a major priority for OfERR. Whereas on arrival most refugees were illiterate, the population is now well educated with an increasing number of qualified professionals. OfERR covers the salary costs of 200 nursery teachers. Due to the support of the Tamil Nadu education

■ two agricultural research farms which train refugee youth while generating income from selling rice seeds to the state government and raising poultry ■ a nutritional enhancement programme providing supplementary food prepared from local grains to pregnant women and lactating mothers – reducing expenditure on baby food ■ an initiative to transfer fishing net manufacture skills from older refugees both to young refugees and to local fishermen ■ youth labour cooperatives which have won contracts to help construct the Konkan railway on India’s western coast ■ three tailoring training centres: the trained refugees meet the needs of camp inhabitants and sell to local markets ■ a gem-cutting teaching centre where a hundred refugee youth



Learning from empowerment of Sri Lankan refugees in India have learnt to cut and polish semiprecious stones; some have set up their own businesses, while others have found private employment ■ female income-generation projects making coir ropes and brushes ■ enabling vulnerable widows and older people to supplement their income by raising poultry ■ raising environmental awareness by improving camp sanitation facilities, encouraging energy efficiency and promotion of biogas ■ supporting 176 women self-help groups (each of between 15 and 18 members) who receive credit to enable food manufacture and vending microenterprises ■ credit provision to young male refugees to establish grocery, bakery, fish and vegetable marketing and cycle repair business ■ loans to enable trained masons, carpenters and painters to purchase tools; 2,000 refugees now work in the construction industry

Lessons learned OfERR has provided an empowerment model for self-help refugee organisations elsewhere. They have demonstrated that a refugee-run organisation can: ■ base programmes on accurate knowledge of refugee needs ■ put resources to optimum use for the benefit of maximum number of refugees ■ ensure that the needs of vulnerable community members are not ignored ■ integrate health, nutrition, incomegeneration, microcredit and skills training programmes ■ devise ingenious methods to mobilise resources from expatriates both in the countries of resettlement and of origin ■ provide practical training and technical assistance to build sustainable livelihoods ■ establish credibility with donors and attract new funding sources

FMR 20 ■ create a pool of skilled refugees ready to provide long-term economic benefits and assist post-conflict reconstruction. OfFer’s empowerment programmes have not only helped the refugees to be gainfully occupied but also overcome the psychological trauma resulting from prolonged residence in camps and years of uncertainty regarding prospects for return to Sri Lanka. The dependency syndrome often accompanying prolonged stay in camps has been avoided. K C Saha is a Indian senior civil servant. He works independently on forced migration issues in South Asia. The views expressed in this paper are the author’s personal views and should not be construed as the views of the Government of India. Email: The website of the Organization for Eelam Refugees Rehabilitation (OfERR) is

Livelihood opportunities for Sudanese refugees by Leben Nelson Moro


ome of the most disadvantaged refugees in Egypt are former Sudanese students who remained in Egypt when the democratically-elected Sudanese government was overthrown in 1989. A small number of them managed to settle in the West but the majority remained in Egypt as refugees; legal restrictions, however, prevent them from working officially. Many work illegally in jobs that do not match their qualifications. Some stay at home, dependent on their spouses. Women have assumed greater responsibility for their families often because the men are unwilling to do the lower status – and lower paid – jobs that are available. Some former students receive remittances from relatives and friends in the West, a flow of resources key to the survival strategies of many

refugees in Egypt. Skills for Southern Sudan is an NGO set up in 1995 by Windle Trust International to support educated Sudanese refugees in Britain and East Africa in developing relevant skills for the job marketplace and helping them find employment. In 1997 Skills for Southern Sudan set up an office in Kenya to facilitate Sudanese professionals’ return to Africa, arranging job-seeking workshops and assisting with recruitment. In February 1999 they opened an office in Cairo to provide information and support to those Sudanese refugees willing to take up training and employment opportunities in East Africa and southern Sudan. The Cairo office is now closed. Skills for Southern Sudan has run training courses (in Cairo, southern

Sudan and Nairobi) in subjects such as report-writing, CV preparation, interview techniques, good governance, language skills and women’s empowerment. A number of Sudanese refugees from Cairo have returned to Southern Sudan; most have mainly found work with humanitarian organisations but some are working with the civil administration of the SPLA, which sorely lacks skilled personnel. When the peace accords are finally signed, returnees will be able to contribute to their country’s reconstruction and attainment of a durable peace. Leben Nelson Moro works for the Office of African Studies at the American University in Cairo. He is currently studying at the Refugee Studies Centre in Oxford. Email:


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Skills training for youth

RET/Hilde Lemey

by Barry Sesnan, Graham Wood, Marina L Anselme and Ann Avery

Providing skills training for youth should be a key component in promoting secure livelihoods for refugees. Young people must be given the chance to develop the practical, intellectual and social skills that will serve them throughout their lives.


oung people in conflict-torn states – including genocide survivors in Rwanda, AIDS-ravaged families in Uganda and ex-child combatants in West Africa – have heavy responsibilities thrust upon them. Whilst they hope for a bright future – a good job, a family, fulfillment and respect – they often have to put their own future on hold to support their families. Vocational training is often their most practical option. This article assesses the skills youth need to develop secure livelihoods and suggests how skills learning and practical opportunities should be organised.

No market demand, no training There is often a conflict between the livelihood skills young people want to learn, what they need to learn for sustainable future employment and what is currently in demand in labour markets. Youth must tailor their ambitions to market realities. One of the authors (Barry Sesnan) has worked with young people on a ‘value-added approach’: first seeing what products and services people are paying for and then imagining what added value the potential entrepreneur could add at little risk. In Sudan and Uganda

Ockenden International has developed a system to help young would-be entrepreneurs evaluate the financial landscape, observe money circulation and assess existing and potential markets. Training must not reinforce traditional gender roles that impose restraints on livelihood opportunities. It may be possible to develop more neutral training opportunities. The trades of carpenter, electrician and blacksmith are among those usually considered only appropriate for men while mat making and weaving are more often regarded as women’s activities. Agencies must consider the degree to which certain vocations may be culturally acceptable in specific contexts and therefore the basis for secure livelihoods. A female carpenter may be able to earn a living in Uganda but not in Afghanistan.

Apprenticeship training in refugee camps in Bajaur agency, Peshawar, Pakistan

Skills training for youth

“Youth want something that pulls them into the future, not just a cow and a garden. Just barely earning a living won’t substitute for the exciting lifestyle of the combatant – won’t keep them from rejoining armed forces when that seems again an attractive option.”1 If self-employment is the aim, then agencies also need to provide business training in areas such as bookkeeping, profit and loss accounting, market expansion, marketing and product display. Every programme must take into account market opportunities and potential. Concrete possibilities for putting skills training to income-generating use must be assessed realistically. The rule should be simple: no market demand, no training.

Intellectual skills As far as possible, adolescent refugees in vocational training programmes

FMR 20 should also be taught basic education and life skills. These include reading, writing, numeracy, science, artistic expression and handicrafts, landmine awareness, HIV/AIDS awareness, gender-based violence, environmental protection, civic responsibility, human rights, resolving conflicts, personal hygiene, safety and good parenting. While it may not be possible to teach all of these in all situations, efforts should be made to link those most appropriate to the vocational skills being taught. Youth who acquire a good mix of practical skills and conceptual understanding can more easily adapt to changes in their work, develop professionally and cope with the evolution of the market for their services. In all cases training should be linked to the social and work context in which the young person expects to find him/herself, whether in the host country, the country of origin or resettlement. Programmes must respond to specific

needs and avoid one-size-fits-all templates.

Skills delivery Skills training programmes can be organised, presented and packaged in exciting and challenging ways, even in a camp-based situation. It is important for humanitarian agencies to: ■ stress that learning is a life-long process in order to counter the perception that a young refugee’s hope for a better future ends with the formal education he/she receives: they need to realise they can independently explore many diverse paths to enhanced knowledge and skills ■ deliver training, wherever possible, to younger women and girls in their communities: men are much more likely to be able to access centre-based training which may take them away from home for considerable periods of time ■ provide care for the children or siblings of young women in order to promote regular attendance ■ use a wide range of information technologies such as radio, tape recorders, CDs and computers: in Tanzania and Pakistan the Foundation for the Refugee Education Trust (RET) has provided computers to give teenagers Internet access to transcend the borders imposed by poverty and isolation ■ replicate experience in Sudan and Pakistan whereby young refugees benefit from apprenticeship schemes with artisans in accessible nearby towns: agencies should monitor and supervise to ensure that young trainees are being taught and not simply exploited ■ explore scope for helping both young refugees and local teenagers: in 2002 RET supported a programme in a transit camp at Jembe, Sierra Leone, which combined training (in carpentry, bakery, tailoring, crocheting, soap making and tiedyeing) with sports and other activities to reinforce confidence and social interaction skills. For the

RET/Tim Brown


Pre-vocational training – carpentry workshop in Jembe camp, Sierra Leone

FMR 20 local youth it had the added advantage of giving them experience of alternatives to hazardous work in the local diamond mines. ■ realise that project development must involve consultation with young people; older people should not make decisions on their behalf.

Tools and credit Lack of tools and credit is a major obstacle to practising newly acquired skills. There are several approaches to overcoming these constraints. Some agencies provide trainees with a starter kit and require them to earn the right to own the tools provided by gradually paying back a cash sum equivalent to their value. Those who have chosen to run microcredit programmes have learned that microcredit is best provided by an agency quite separate from the one providing training. A third alternative is for a resource centre to supply a warehouse of vocational tools that may be loaned or rented to graduates. Whatever the choice, inter-agency coordination is vital to avoid the risk that different schemes and conditions either confuse the beneficiaries or give them scope to play one off against the other. In Dadaab, Kenya, with a loan from CARE’s Community Revolving Fund and additional capital raised from

Interested in participating in a panel on refugee and IDP livelihoods? At the IASFM conference, 9-13 January 2005 in São Paulo, Brazil, we would like to organise a panel on the livelihood strategies of forced migrants and the importance of understanding these in the development of solutions. The panel discussion would come under subtheme 1 on ‘Solutions: durable or temporary?’

Skills training for youth his friends, Abdinoor Ali Sigat started a private business in the Hagadera camp market with three computers and a small generator, offering training on six different computer programmes to an average of 40 students at any time. Abdinoor reports that business is good, with a high demand from young refugees. He said they and their families find various ways to pay for this training – which they believe will improve their future prospects.2

Conclusion As skills training is often perceived as something of a luxury in an emergency context it has often been difficult to persuade donors to fund programmes. Even in more stable situations, funding is problematic. As with all forms of education, there is no quick fix and short-term funding often fails to allow for the types of programme development suggested above. There are promising signs, however, that donors and agencies are starting to take more interest in programmes for youth in situations of return and reconstruction. Provision of skills training, backed up by intellectual and life skills, is an essential part of any economic recovery strategy. The earlier this training is introduced into the refugee context the more effective it is likely to be.

as one strategy – be effective in the refugee context? 2. Examples of effective and ineffective practice in relation to the promotion of refugee livelihoods (research, papers, case-studies). 3. Various livelihood approaches and methodologies and debate over their use. 4. Is the debate over discourse hindering progess? 5. UNHCR’s role – help or hindrance?

Possible areas of discussion are:

6. Livelihoods and cross-cutting themes such as HIV/AIDS, youth and gender.

1. Should self-reliance strategies be targeted and implemented for refugees and displaced people? For example, can microfinance –

The aim of the discussions would be to lead to increased sharing, lessons learned and future collaboration of

Those in protracted refugee situations also need the hope – as well as the skills – that training can provide. Barry Sesnan is an educationist and founder of the NGO Echo Bravo. Email: Graham Wood is director of policy at Ockenden International ( Email: Marina L Anselme is Educational Programme Development Manager for the Foundation for the Refugee Education Trust (www. Email: Ann Avery coordinates the team on education for youth in emergencies convened by the RET for the Interagency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE: The authors and INEE are keen to further develop standards and good practice in skills training for youth. If you have experiences to share, please contact Ann Avery. Email: 1. Interview with Irma Specht, formerly of ILO InFocus Programme on Crisis Response and Reconstruction. 2. Unpublished paper based on research with young refugees in Dadaab, with Care International in Kenya and the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. For more information, email Liz Cooper at

individuals and agencies working with displaced people. Ideally, the panel will be a mix of academics, practitioners, policy makers, government representatives and forced migrants. Please contact Carrie Conway ( if you are interested in participating or would like to share your ideas. The IASFM conference will focus on the search for solutions to forced migration. Visit for full details. All correspondence concerning the conference should be to: Heidi El-Megrisi, IASFM Secretariat, c/o RSC, QEH, 21 St Giles, Oxford OX1 3LA, UK. Email: Fax: +44 (0)1865 270721.



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speaker’s corner Convention Plus: better protection for refugees? by Manisha Thomas and Ed Schenkenberg van Mierop


year and a half after its launch Convention Plus’ three components are moving forward at different paces. None of the promised ‘special arrangements’ are in place. When they come on stream will refugees be better protected or will this only serve states’ interests? Ruud Lubbers, the High Commissioner for Refugees, introduced the concept of Convention Plus at a meeting of the European Union Justice and Home Affairs Council in September 2002. He sold the idea by saying that it would “inject more predictability into the system, and adjust it better to today’s realities, in the interests of both states and those who need international protection.” The “Plus”, he said, would be “a number of special agreements aimed at managing the challenges of today and tomorrow in a spirit of international cooperation.”1

The underlying motivation of Convention Plus seems more geared to strengthening the restrictive asylum policies of industrialised states than to truly improving refugee protection. By pushing Western governments to provide more development assistance to developing countries to meet the needs of refugees, developing states will buy in to Convention Plus agreements.

The three strands of Convention Plus 1. The first strand to really get underway, the Strategic Use of Resettlement, is being led by Canada. Negotiations through a core group

have been working towards developing a multilateral framework of understandings on the strategic use of resettlement (though the name of the document may yet change). NGOs have been invited to comment on the various drafts of the document but have not been able to participate in the core group meetings. 2. Irregular Secondary Movements of Refugees and Asylum-Seekers was spearheaded by Switzerland and is cochaired by South Africa. The strand’s core group is open to any state and — unlike the resettlement strand — also includes NGOs. A case study of the Somali caseload is to be conducted by the Swiss Forum for Migration and Population Studies2. NGOs have pointed to the need to ensure that the Somali caseload study does not become the sole basis for any agreements. There is also a concern that the concept of effective protection, which is being thrown into the discussions of this strand, may be narrowly defined to best suit the interests of states and not of refugees and asylum seekers. 3. Targeting Development Assistance to Achieve Durable Solutions, led by Denmark and Japan, is just getting underway. An initial discussion paper was presented to the last Forum meeting in March 2004. Many governments are pressing for ‘special agreements’ to be negotiated just between governments. This move to restrict the access of NGOs which work closely with refugees seems to indicate a greater desire to have the

agreements meet the needs of states, rather than ensuring respect for the rights of refugees. On the positive side, Convention Plus could form the basis of special agreements that work to find durable solutions for protracted refugee situations. The resettlement strand is probably the best placed in terms of being able to focus on specific caseloads and work with a number of governments to agree on a time-limited resettlement programme. At the same time, the third strand could also potentially find durable solutions for the same specific caseloads by encouraging local integration through the provision of development assistance. All the activities around Convention Plus give rise to the question: are these really new concepts that are being pursued or have old concepts simply been recycled to make them palatable to states? The answer will depend on whether or not refugee protection is improved. Manisha Thomas is the Humanitarian Affairs Officer and Ed Schenkenberg van Mierop the Coordinator of the International Council for Voluntary Agencies, Email: or 1 Statement by Ruud Lubbers, UNHCR, at an informal meeting of the European Justice and Home Affairs Council, Copenhagen, 13 September 2002 (available on UNHCR’s website ( together with papers related to the Forum. 2 See


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The experiences of women in Australian immigration detention centres

by Yvette Zurek

Women asylum seekers locked up in Australia suffer unnecessarily due to the gender insensitivity of detention centre staff.


sylum seekers who come to Australia by boat – mostly Iraqi, Afghan, Iranian and Palestinian refugees – are subject to mandatory detention in one of seven immigration detention centres. Immigration guidelines demand that all people who come to Australia without valid documents be detained while they are screened and while applications for protection are considered. My research is based on interviews and personal interactions with women who have arrived and made on-shore applications for refugee status since 1999 – the time when legislative changes introduced Temporary Protection Visas and detention as a means of deterring further arrivals. All women interviewed arrived in Australia before September 2001 and were housed in reception centres on Australian territory; those who have attempted this dangerous journey since September 2001 are sent to either Nauru or Papua New Guinea to be detained and processed. All women spoke of being treated as though they were criminals, and sometimes even animals. “There was much trouble because we did not want to be there. Nobody wanted to be there. No one tells us what happens. We feel like we, we feel like we not human beings. We feel like animals.” (Reeba) No distinction is made between men, women, or even children. “It was detention… it was like a prison, only there were men, women and children, all together… and all the people were scared, and instead of being criminals, many of the people in there were the victims… [We were treated]

like criminals. We were in a prison, so I guess they had to treat us like criminals. But we should not have been there. Nobody told us one single word about what was going to happen to us.” (Denya)

Provision of sanitary products Although a number of information sheets provide guidelines for the processing of asylum seekers in Australia, little attention is paid to women and the possibility of individual or gender differences. When it comes to reception centres, only one document attempts to address the specific needs of women. The Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs has produced a fact sheet detailing guidelines for the provision of sanitary products within detention centres: ‘Under the Immigration Detention Standards Australasian Correctional Management (ACM) is required to operate in a manner that preserves the dignity and privacy of all detainees, including women. Request and distribution arrangements for sanitary products are therefore established to ensure that female detainees can be provided with their sanitary products in the most discreet manner possible.’1 Actual experiences suggest a much more harrowing experience. The guidelines recommend that sanitary products should be dispensed by female correctional officers. However, many women explain that accessing a female employee was often not possible. All women spoke of the shame of having to approach a male officer.

“It okay for the man because they do not go [to the toilet] as much as the women. But it is very, very shaming when you have your women’s period. This time you have to say I be needing the women stuff. … We must go seeing the guards and telling that we need the things…they would be saying ‘why do you be needing this?’ I be thinking, do not Australian men be knowing about the womens getting the monthly periods?” (Lita) Not only was she unable to have access to a female officer but also the male officers with whom Lita had contact did not behave professionally. Their feigned ignorance meant her shame was increased unnecessarily as she had to explain in detail why she required sanitary products. For three of the five detention centres mentioned in the guidelines, there was a limit to the number of products a woman could access each month, based on an average of what a woman was expected to need. Where the guidelines did not specify whether or not women could ask for more products, many of the women spoke of there being a specified limit which was very difficult to exceed. When I asked one woman if she received enough products, she explained: “For me, yes, sometimes I would say I still be having my monthly period so other women could be using my supply. We could not use more than same amount, each woman, each month. There was other womens in my room who be needing more… they could not get more.” Another woman explains: “…if [a woman] would be needing more pads for her monthly period, the guards would be telling everybody. They would be yelling at her and saying this when everybody was in the room.”

The experiences of women in Australian immigration detention centres To avoid such shame, women often did not dare to request more sanitary products. There was general agreement among the women that conditions were better when they had access to a female officer. The struggles women faced in detention while menstruating were not limited to the provision of sanitary products. Ellena explained some of the side effects she suffered: “When I am getting the periods I am getting very sick with this. I need to spend the many days in the bed. … I could not come to the meals, and that was very bad. Without the food, I could not be getting the better. … We could only get the food at the meal times, and in the meal rooms. No food was to be taken from this place… If you could not go to this room for the meals, you could not be eating.”

“Sometimes there would be people coming in to see the children in the detention. At that time, the mothers were made to take their children to be washed and scrubbed and cleaned. Then, the mothers would be washing themselves and the clothes at this time. I could not do this. I did not have the children to take.” Women without children would often offer to help mothers – or pretend to be mother to another’s child – in order to gain access to toilets and showers. The responses of detention centre officers when such schemes were detected were repressive and punitive. In describing the reactions from staff members who found her, one woman explains: “Some, they would say to me, we will help to make you a mother, is that what you want? To be a mother?”

Conclusions Describing a similar experience, Laticia explained how she and her sister would sneak each other food when one was unwell and unable to get to the dining room: “This is being the one good thing about this clothes we were wearing. There is very much clothes, and we would put in some bread under this chador so we could get the food to get better… Sometimes the crumbs would be falling in the beds and the guards would find this and punish us.” The women adopted measures such as these to address their own needs amidst the pressures to obey the rules.

Restricted access to showers and toilets Other women spoke of restrictions placed on using showers and toilets within the centres. In one centre, there were only two female toilets. Women spoke of long queues and the need to rise early in the morning to ensure access. Detainees had to earn the right to have a shower by completing jobs around the centre; however, these jobs often constituted heavy labour, only suitable for men. In order to work their way around this, women had to ‘charm’ the officers. Alternatively, mothers were often able to shower while washing their children. As Magdalena explains:

This paper offers only a sample of the experiences described by women who have been in Australia’s immigration detention centres. It is clear, however, that the basic human needs of these women are not being met. Many of the women spoke of how the lack of gender sensitivity compounded the effects of the torture and trauma they had suffered in their country of origin. It is not sufficient to recommend that guidelines to address the needs of women be devised and incorporated into the management procedures for detention centres. The experiences of women who have been detained suggest that existing guidelines are limited and depend on the discretion of individual correctional officers. Several conclusions can be drawn: ■ The underlying problems experienced by women in detention centres must be recognised. ■ Greater gender sensitivity should be incorporated into the guidelines for immigration detention centres. ■ There should be better monitoring of and follow up to the implementation of guidelines in centres. ■ More extensive research is needed to examine gender-based differences and how these impact on experiences of women in reception centres. Yvette Zurek is a PhD student at

FMR 20 the Bathurst campus of Australia’s Charles Sturt University. Email: 1 See the ‘Provision of Sanitary Products to Female Immigration Detainees,’ This gives details of individual arrangements at each detention centre.

House: loss, refuge and belonging

Andra Nwlkie


NTNU Research Network on Internal Displacement 2nd International Conference 16-18 September 2004 : Trondheim, Norway

What is the meaning of ‘house’ for forced migrants? Keynote presentations by: Dr Tone Bringa, Chr Michelsen Institute Dr Francis M Deng, Representative of the UN Secretary-General on IDPs Associate Professor Jennifer Hyndman, Simon Fraser University Research Fellow Hans Skotte, Norwegian University of Science and Technology Dr Lex Takkenberg, UNRWA Professor Roger Zetter, Oxford Brookes University Dr Rosemary Sayigh, independent researcher, Lebanon Deadline for registration of paper and early registration: 1 June 2004 Deadline for late registration: 15 August 2004 For further information see: Contact details: Research Group on Forced Migration, Department of Geography, NTNU, NO-7491 Trondheim, Norway. Email:


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Where there is no information: IDP vulnerability assessments in Sri Lanka’s borderlands by Danesh Jayatilaka and Robert Muggah

A third of the estimated 600,000 IDPs in Sri Lanka live in areas controlled by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE). Displaced people within these so-called ‘un-cleared’ or ‘liberated areas’ (terms used by the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE respectively) are at especial risk. Their situation highlights the difficulties of assessing protection and assistance in the context of conflict.


his article introduces an innovative approach to measuring the protection and assistance needs of IDPs in data-scarce and conflict-prone environments. Drawing on the experience of a recent vulnerability assessment undertaken in ‘un-cleared’ areas of Sri Lanka, it outlines eight key variables that rank and prioritise risks and vulnerabilities amongst IDP populations. Highlighting opportunities and challenges facing future efforts, it potentially offers a model for other countries facing similar types of internal displacement crises.

The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement identify the rights and guarantees relevant to the protection of persons from forced displacement and highlight their entitlement to protection from displacement and to a durable solution. The 30 principles reflect progressive thinking in international human rights law, humanitarian law and refugee law by analogy — and offer normative and prescriptive guidelines for intervention.1 Though debate continues over when displacement ends2 and the responsibilities associated with the provision of rights, there is general consensus that such populations experience a range of risks and vulnerabilities that demand attention. But what are these risks? How are they actually experienced?

Among the many challenges facing those responding to internal displacement is the question of information. Amidst loud calls to ensure the rights and entitlements of IDPs, little is actually known about the type and scale of their vulnerability. Monitoring capacities in areas affected by warinduced displacement are often limited, if they exist at all. Nationallevel studies may be available on the Internet but district civil servants and NGO field workers in areas of displacement are rarely able to access them or to undertake data collection. In the rare cases where action research is undertaken, it is often sector-specific or onceoff. Studies have rarely assessed the dimensions of the displacement continuum from a holistic perspective. There has been a significant number of attempts to appraise the risks and vulnerabilities facing Sri Lankan IDPs. Many have lacked rigour due to the logistical and resource constraints that invariably accompany research projects in the context of conflict. Few of these studies have paid adequate attention to the situation of IDPs in liberated/uncleared areas of the country.

tarian and development sector in Sri Lanka relates to the nature of the information that should be gathered. The Guiding Principles can be an unwieldy tool of analysis. Though efforts to operationalise the Guiding Principles as a toolkit for research have been partially successful, a danger is that by appraising 30 principles – particularly in an environment where resources are constrained – the level of detail is reduced. On the other hand, the application of too narrow a lens runs the risk of missing vital data. A related concern is the appropriateness of the data to be collected. Are the key indicators the right ones: do they capture data that is meaningful to IDPs themselves? The dangers associated with imposing top-down criteria are well known amongst proponents of participatory action research. The Brookings Project on Internal Displacement3 commissioned the Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies (CHA)4 to undertake a focused assessment of risks and vulnerabilities

the application of too narrow a lens runs the risk of missing vital data

Designing an IDP Vulnerability Assessment Tool A critical question facing the humani-

facing IDPs in the LTTE-controlled Vanni region. Humanitarian access to this particular group, at the time composed of a quarter of the country’s total caseload, was comparatively limited. The assumption of the project was that the Vanni IDPs received less support and were therefore necessarily more vulnerable and unprotected than IDPs in other areas. Recent field research, however, has suggested a rather more complex picture. This project had as its central goal the objective of expanding the analytical lens in relation to assessing and therefore improving inter-agency responses to IDP protection and


Where there is no information: IDP vulnerability assessments in Sri Lanka’s borderlands

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Suggested Indicators



mortality and morbidity rates; malnutrition rates; disease caseload; prevalence of training and immunisation; availability of external assistance

hospitals; NGOs; community surveys

Food and nutrition

presence and distribution of food assistance programmes; appropriate and equitable distribution; and ‘appropriateness’ of diet

NGOs; community surveys; key informants


presence, distribution and access to education facilities; per capita teaching staff; teacher qualifications; enrolment and attendance rates (primary, secondary); and literacy rates

schools and libraries; NGOs; community mapping; community surveys; key informants


type and source of water source (consumption/ bathing); number, distribution and access of water points (Sphere standards); and water consumption ratios

NGOs; community mapping; community surveys; key informants


health and hygiene habits; ratio of toilets to population; management and maintenance of facilities (e.g. gender sensitive); location of toilets and waste disposal (Sphere standards)

government agents; NGOs; community mapping; community surveys; key informants

Psychosocial factors

rates of depression/mental illness; type and ranking of priority community issues; and presence/quality of social work/therapy/ psychosocial-related programmes

hospitals and clinics; pharmacies; key informants; semi-structured interviews


material construction of shelter (e.g. brick, thatch, tent); land size and fertility; household size (Sphere standards); repair and maintenance support; access to key infrastructure (e.g. roads, markets, public services)

local civil servants; NGOs; village leaders; community mapping; community surveys

Safe movement

distribution of mines and unexploded ordnance; access and presence of agricultural/subsistence land; injury rates, distribution and profile; presence of de-mining/awareness programmes

NGOs; local civil servants; army; village leaders; community mapping

assistance. The assessment tool was generated in consultation with over 16 representatives from the humanitarian and development sector. It departed from the Guiding Principles in one important respect: it articulated eight key variables (as opposed to 30 principles) that were felt by key stakeholders to be core elements of IDP protection and assistance. These variables were devised by an advisory group and were not drawn in a participatory manner from IDPs themselves. There is a strong case to be made, however, for encouraging the latter’s involvement in the future. It is important to emphasise, however, that these variables nevertheless reflect the central tenets of the Guiding Principles. Where these eight variables were judged to be relevant for a given IDP population, they also suggest that the

strictures of the Guiding Principles were being similarly adhered to. The eight variables in the vulnerability assessment tool are health, food, education, water, sanitation, psychosocial factors, shelter and safe movement. Each variable includes a number of quantitative and qualitative indicators seen to be important in the Sri Lankan context. The descriptive indicators set out in the table above are not exhaustive but rather illustrative. For example, the variable ‘health’ can be determined by appraising mortality and morbidity rates within the designated population, the registered caseload of various diseases and illnesses, the prevalence of training and immunisation programmes and the availability

of external development and public health-related assistance. Both primary and secondary data should be collected via a combination of methods. Any vulnerability assessment also requires consideration of how the information will actually be collected. The project introduced a training and dissemination component to facilitate the transmission of data gathered in the field. This was seen as essential to facilitate the rapid circulation of operationally-relevant information to appropriate stakeholders. It also served to generate awareness among local stakeholders of the risks and vulnerabilities of IDP populations. Over a 12-month period, more than 250 representatives of local NGOs and community-based organisations and civil servants were trained in research and data collection methods.

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Where there is no information: IDP vulnerability assessments in Sri Lanka’s borderlands


Conclusion The project was extremely ambitious. It became apparent that: ■ Many, but not all, humanitarian agencies and researchers were unable to invest adequate time and resources to carefully consider findings from the field; their inability to adequately appraise primary data is unlikely to change in the short term, given the increasing burdens placed on them. ■ Prioritisation of delivery restricted scope for reflection and empirical analysis. ■ Despite considerable investment of time and energy in training, locallyrecruited participants lacked sufficient or appropriate skills. ■ They were not always given either sufficient time or adequate remuneration to allow them to fully carry out their assessment tasks.

Despite these constraints, the project demonstrated a capacity for responsive and timely analysis and generated, over a short period, voluminous data in areas or Sri Lanka where little is known about IDP realities. The Guiding Principles offer a useful normative platform for understanding risks and vulnerabilities. By appraising protection and assistance needs in situ the project introduced a complementary and pragmatic strategy to generate detailed information on geographically-specific and heterogeneous populations. Generation of information is a necessary, but insufficient, process for formulating policies to protect and assist IDPs. Analysis and dissemination are crucial but often overlooked. Information management requires more than a capacity to frame the issue. It also demands considerable attention to the ‘downstream’ activi-

UNHCR/R Chalasani

■ The project’s advisory body encountered difficulties in meeting on a regular basis.

ties of analysis and dissemination. Agencies need to devise creative mechanisms to appraise the realities of IDPs in conflict and post-conflict societies. This project offers a novel template to begin asking the right questions. Danesh Jayatilaka is an independent consultant working on conflict and displacement related projects in Sri Lanka. Most recently, he has worked closely with GTZ and CARE USA. Email: idpguide@diamond. Robert Muggah is a Global Security Co-operation Fellow of the Social Science Research

Council and a senior researcher of the Small Arms Survey, a project of the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva. He is currently pursuing a doctorate in development and forced migration studies at the University of Oxford. Email: Contact Danesh or Robert for extended report. 1. See principles.htm 2. See FMR17, especially ‘Introduction’ by Erin Mooney, pp 4-7 FMRpdfs/FMR17/fmr17.01.pdf 3. Now the Brookings-SAIS Project on Internal Displacement. See: www.brookings. edu/fp/projects/idp/about_us.htm 4. See

UNHCR-funded primary school in the permanent relocation village of Tharanikulum, Vavuniya


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Bridging the national and international response to IDPs by Peter Neussl

This overview article assesses progress towards adapting national policies and legislation to the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement.

Dr Francis Deng, the Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Internal Displacement (hereafter ‘RSG’), the Senior Inter-Agency Network on Internal Displacement (‘Network’) and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ Internal Displacement Unit (‘IDP Unit’) have been continuously urging states to incorporate the principles into domestic law. The potential benefits for a nation state of including the Guiding Principles in national legislation are: ■ bringing international legal principles closer to ordinary citizens: national law can be invoked more easily than the abstract instruments of international human rights law ■ providing for a higher degree of legal certainty and for an environment where ‘justice is seen to be done’ ■ clearly demonstrating to the international community a commitment to apply the highest possible standards and to take national ownership of the process ■ encouraging the international community to provide support and assistance for the state’s engagement in protecting the rights of the displaced

There is, therefore, no reason why the inclusion of the Guiding Principles into national policies or legislation should not become a standard procedure for all countries with an IDP situation.



he Guiding Principles are based on existing human rights and humanitarian law treaties and conventions. Most countries with an IDP population have ratified them and are therefore bound to respect the rights and freedoms contained therein. Standards provided under the IDP children in Rhumbek, Sudan Guiding Principles mostly specify provisions of such treaties and conventions to adapt them to the problems faced by IDPs. Hence, the Guiding Principles should be understood not as a layer of completely new international obligations but as a tool to facilitate the application of existing international legal standards.

■ In Sudan, following workshops facilitated by the RSG and the IDP Unit, both the government and the SPLM indicated their readiness to adopt IDP policies based on the Guiding Principles. In 2002 this process resulted in separate initiatives, one for the governmentcontrolled areas and one for SPLM/A-controlled areas. In January 2004, again at the occasion of a workshop, a draft policy for the whole country was developed

Progress to date The RSG, the Network and the IDP Unit have encouraged individual states to integrate the Guiding Principles and/or the standards contained therein into national policies and legislation. Several models of incorporation have been established. ■ Emerging from a 30-year conflict which killed a million people, created 4.1 million IDPs and drove another 400,000 across its borders, Angola in 2001 became the first state to incorporate the Guiding Principles into domestic law.1 ■ After a ten-year civil war which killed 300,000 people and displaced a similar number, in February 2001 Burundi signed a protocol with the UN Humanitarian Coordinator to establish a permanent framework to consult on how to protect IDPs by using the Guiding Principles.2

which is presently in the negotiation phase. ■ Colombia, second only to Sudan in the size of its IDP population, has done much to localise the Guiding Principles. In addition to a 1997 IDP law, Colombia’s Constitutional Court has issued decisions interpreting the legal rights of the displaced on the basis of the Guiding Principles. Based on the Court’s decisions,3 a presidential directive in October 2001 placed the Principles on the same level as the national constitution. ■ Uganda, coping with armed conflicts which have left some 830,000 displaced, started working with the IDP Unit in 2002 to develop policy derived from the Guiding Principles. The policy addresses all phases of the cycle of displacement and clearly allocates implementation responsibilities to domestic institutional structures and establishes modalities for cooperation with the UN and other

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Regional approaches also bearing fruit In May 2000 a workshop in Tbilisi, Georgia, worked to promote more effective solutions to the plight of IDPs in the South Caucasus. It was initiated by the RSG and co-sponsored by the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Brookings-SAIS Project on Internal Displacement and the Norwegian Refugee Council. In February 2002 ODIHR, the Brookings Institution and the Georgian Young Lawyers Association convened a follow-up roundtable on the extent to which Georgian legislation has come into compliance with the Guiding Principles.4 In 2003, member states of the InterGovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) – Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia,

Sudan and Uganda – convened the first regional IDP conference. The resultant Khartoum Declaration on Internally Displaced Persons in the IGAD Sub-Region notes that the Guiding Principles are a useful tool for developing and evaluating national policies and legislation on IDPs, and calls for the establishment of a unit on forced displacement within the IGAD Secretariat to collect data on displacement in the region, disseminate the Guiding Principles, provide technical assistance to member states, follow up on the recommendations made at the meeting and explore further sub-regional cooperation on displacement issues. The Rotterdam Declaration, a statement made in July 2003 by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Office for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), contains several IDP clauses. It stipulates that OSCE states should not forcibly return IDPs and urges them to take steps to prevent internal displacement, find solutions to promote return and guarantee the rights of IDPs to have property restored and to be adequately housed in the meantime. The December 2003 OSCE Ministerial Council Decision refers to the Guiding Principles as a useful framework for the OSCE and the participating states.

Conclusion These examples illustrate the momentum which has been created to encourage local and national authorities to focus on the needs of IDPs. The Guiding Principles have moved beyond an advocacy tool to attract the attention of donors towards a common platform for national and international action taken on behalf of the internally displaced. OCHA NY/A Baiocchi

international humanitarian actors. ■ Since the end of the Kosovo crisis in 1999 some 200,000 Kosovars remain displaced in Serbia, with a further 30,000 in Montenegro and about 5,000 in Kosovo. Workshops convened by the IDP Unit have created momentum to establish an integrated IDP policy based on the Guiding Principles which will include obligations to provide IDPs with shelter, identity cards and social and health services and to enable IDPs to opt either for return to Kosovo or for resettlement elsewhere in Serbia. ■ Since the 1995 Dayton Agreement brought an end to the ethnic cleansing which created over a million IDPs in Bosnia and Herzegovina, measures to reestablish a multi-ethnic society have moved forward. Although the Guiding Principles have not yet been legally established, some elements such as the respect of individual IDPs’ specific human rights and in particular nondiscrimination (eg. in property restitution, the issuance of identity documents and employment practices) have been included in the new constitution. Further constitutional and institutional mechanisms to help so-called minority returns have been established in the Entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina. More than half those displaced have returned. The majority have gone back to areas where they are in a minority.

Bridging the national and international response to IDPs

However, cultural differences, divergent perceptions of human rights policy and implementation mechanisms, historic backgrounds, conflict and natural disasters are among the factors which could thwart further progress. The establishment of IDP policies or legislation must therefore be seen as complementing efforts by governments and the international community to establish


effective parameters for addressing country-specific political, legal and economic aspects. Regional efforts can help build common understandings to achieve the standards set out in the Guiding Principles. The role played by the Council of Europe, the OSCE and the European Union to resolve displacement problems and re-establish economic growth could serve as a spur to regional efforts in other parts of the world. Peter Neussl is IDP Adviser at the Internal Displacement Unit of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs ( Email: The views expressed in this article are strictly personal and do not represent those of the UN. 1. For analysis of Angola’s integration of the Guiding Principles, see ‘IDP protection in Angola: has momentum been lost?’ by Kamia Carvalho, FMR16, pp31-33, FMR16/fmr16.10.pdf 2. For further information on Burundi’s IDP consultation framework, see: Tullio Santini, ‘Addressing the protection gap: the Framework for Consultation on IDPs in Burundi’, FMR15, pp. 4346, full.pdf 3. The Court called upon the President to further develop and regulate existing legislation in order to better define the government agencies’ responsibilities. The Guiding Principles, said the Court, should serve as a parameter in this respect. See also the website of the Global IDP Project: 9217BDF36DB8E1C1256BD4006A1F3C 4. See also Roberta Cohen, Walter Kälin and Erin Mooney (eds) ‘The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement and the Law of the South Caucasus – Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan’, Studies in Transitional Legal Policy – No. 34 (2003).

IDPs in Camacupa camp, Angola



The Internal Displacement Unit – OCHA


he proliferation of internal conflicts in the 1990s gave rise to new interest in the phenomenon of internal displacement. At the beginning of the new millennium, an estimated 25 million people were internally displaced as a result of armed conflict and human rights violations. An additional 20-25 million were said to be displaced as a result of natural disasters. During the course of the last decade, in response to the gravity and increasing seriousness of the problem, the international community has responded with the development of new legal and institutional frameworks. In the absence of express legal or normative standards applicable to the internally displaced, Dr Francis Deng, the UN Secretary-General’s Representative on Internally Displaced Persons, developed the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, based on international human rights, humanitarian and refugee law. Although not a binding instrument, the Guiding Principles have become an essential reference for all those dealing with the issue of internal displacement. At the institutional level, rather than creating a new agency for the internally displaced or assigning responsibility to an existing agency, the international community opted instead for a collaborative approach to internal displacement which would draw upon the mandates and expertise of the UN’s humanitarian and development agencies and other organisations in responding to the protection and assistance needs of the internally displaced. Concerns as to the effectiveness of this approach led to the creation in July 2000 of the Senior Inter-Agency Network on Internal Displacement charged with identifying ways in which the collaborative approach could be made to work more effectively. Among its recommendations was the establishment of the Internal Displacement Unit within the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The Unit’s aim is to ensure a predictable and concerted response among all concerned actors to the problem of internal displacement. Taking into account the variety of needs of IDPs, the Unit identifies and highlights gaps in the humanitarian response to displacement situations. Within this mandate there is a broad range of activities required to address IDPs’ assistance and protection needs. In 2003 the Unit undertook two studies which sought to analyse, both qualitatively and quantitatively, the effectiveness of the international response to the IDP problem.

uation also underlined similar deficiencies in the collaborative approach as had been identified by the Survey and Matrix.

■ A Protection Survey, undertaken collaboratively by the Unit and the Brookings-SAIS Project on Internal Displacement, undertook field visits and interviews in nine countries. It examined the ways in which UN Country Teams and other relevant actors have sought to encourage and support states in discharging their primary responsibility for the protection of IDPs.

■ increase system-wide accountability for IDPs

■ The IDP Response Matrix aimed to map the involvement of humanitarian actors with regard to IDPs and their awareness of interagency policy instruments and guidelines1. Between them, the studies identified a serious failure and lack of commitment on the part of UN agencies to implement the collaborative approach, due in part to a lack of awareness and understanding of the collaborative approach. Also during 2003, an evaluation of the Unit was undertaken to assess its relevance, efficiency and effectiveness.2 As the Unit operates in a broader context, it soon became obvious that its work could not be analysed without reference to the response of the UN system as a whole to internal displacement. As such, the evaluation of the Unit became also an evaluation of the collaborative approach. As well as identifying ways in which the Unit could work more effectively, the eval-

Based on the findings of the Survey, Matrix and the evaluation, and following consultations with the UN Senior Inter-Agency Network on Internal Displacement, the Unit has redefined its objectives and activities for 2004, identifying four key goals: ■ improve predictability and transparency in international response to internal displacement

■ improve confidence in and implementation of the collaborative approach at the field level ■ increase protection of IDPs For further information about the Unit, see: or email: 1. Available online at: relOct03.pdf 2. Available online at: onJan2004.pdf

OCHA’s Internal Displacement Unit and UNDP’s Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery are collaborating with the Editors on the feature section of the next issue of FMR – the return and reintegration of IDPs.


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UNDP’s Bureau for Crisis Prevention & Recovery


he mission of the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery (BCPR) is “to enhance UNDP’s efforts for sustainable development, working with partners to reduce the incidence and impact of disasters and violent conflicts, and to establish the solid foundations for peace and recovery from crisis, thereby advancing the UN Millennium Development Goals on poverty reduction.” Many countries are increasingly vulnerable to violent conflicts or natural disasters that can destroy decades of development and further entrench poverty and inequality. Through its global network, UNDP develops and shares innovative approaches to conflict prevention and peacebuilding, disaster mitigation and post-crisis recovery. UNDP’s presence in almost every developing country means that we are on hand to operationalise crisis prevention and recovery and to help bridge the gap between emergency relief and long-term development.

Working with UNDP Country Offices, BCPR strives to: ■ ensure that UNDP plays a pivotal role in transitions between relief and development ■ promote linkages between UN peace and security and development objectives ■ enhance governments’ responsibilities and technical and national capacities to manage crisis and post-conflict situations ■ support the Secretary-General’s agenda in conflict prevention through building capacities of governments and civil societies to analyse potential risk factors that could give rise to violent conflict and through developing strategies to address structural root causes.

Drawing heavily on its work in areas such as support for democratic governance and poverty reduction, UNDP has a well-established track record in building, consolidating and preserving the peace. From Mozambique and Afghanistan to Guatemala and Albania, UNDP has played a major role in helping countries make the transition to a development-oriented agenda by promoting the rule of law and good governance; establishing justice and security; demobilising soldiers; reducing the flow of small arms; supporting mine action; and providing war-affected populations with alternative livelihoods.

In responding to natural disasters, UNDP has worked from Goma, the Democratic Republic of Congo, to Gujarat, India, to pick up where humanitarian relief leaves off and put in place early recovery initiatives that can be sustained by attention to disaster mitigation and preparedness in the rebuilding process. These development responses are at the heart of the

UNDP has a well-established track record in building, consolidating and preserving the peace.

Specifically on reintegration of displaced populations, UNDP works closely with UNHCR, OCHA’s Internal Displacement Unit, UNICEF, other relevant UN agencies, NGOs, civil society, the World Bank and other development banks to ensure that the longer-term needs of returning refugees, IDPs, ex-combatants and their communities are met and included in national development plans. UNDP’s expertise in capacity building of local government strengthens the ability of authorities to provide social services and respond to the needs of communities and supports the necessary linkage that must be made between the grassroots and centrallevel government. BCPR’s Mine Action programme, in coordination with the UN’s Department of Peace-Keeping Operations (DPKO) and the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS), develops national management infrastructures for mine action. Mine Action Centres build local capacity to organise, coordinate and implement mine action strategies. The ability of a government to address its landmine problem often has a direct impact on reintegration and livelihoods of populations displaced from conflict areas.

UNDP mandate for poverty elimination and democratic governance. UNDP is also mainstreaming the crisis prevention perspective into all of its development work through policy dialogue, staff training and knowledge networking.

Our structure BCPR is headed by a Bureau Director (Assistant Administrator) at the Assistant Secretary-General level. Three units – Recovery, Natural Disaster Reduction and Small Arms Reduction, Disarmament and Demobilisation – are located in Geneva and another three units – Strategic Planning, Mine Action and Operations – are located in New York. BCPR also has staff outposted to UNDP offices in Rome and in many crisis and post-crisis countries. For further information, visit the BCPR website at: or contact the BCPR offices: CPR New York, UNDP, One UN Plaza, New York, NY 10017, USA. Tel: +1 212 906 5194. Fax: +1 212 906 5379. Email: CPR Geneva, 11 chemin des Anemones, Chatelaine, CH-1219, Geneva, Switzerland. Tel: +41 22 917 8540. Fax: +41 22 917 8060. Email:


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Age and gender bias in Russia’s assistance to forced migrants? by Larisa Kosygina

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, more than three million Russians and members of other ethnic groups have left the other former Soviet republics to take up residence in the Russian Federation. Their integration into their ‘historical fatherland’ – and particularly addressing their housing needs – is one of the main concerns of Russia’s migration policy.


his article argues that the state programme designed to help the 1.5 million officially registered forced migrants find accommodation discriminates against its clients by age and gender. This is a result both of retention of the norms of the Soviet Union’s Housing Code and the informal practices of the officials charged with programme implementation. When forced migrants arrive in Russia they often live in very poor conditions. State assistance includes two mechanisms to improve their living conditions: a ten-year interest-free mortgage and provision of free accommodation. In theory each person has the right to apply for both of these within five years of his/her registration as a forced migrant. In practice, however, the second option is possible only for those fortunate enough to remain in the so-called ‘privileged queue’, membership of which is determined by the pronatalist and patriotic housing policies adopted by the USSR. When these preferences are applied to the programme for helping forced migrants to obtain accommodation, the use of these Soviet norms exclude a range of people – those who are not officially recognised single mothers (women who give birth to a child within a marriage but subsequently divorce or widows), single fathers and all those old-aged pensioners who are not teachers, doctors, Second World War veterans, labour heroes or people with disabilities. These excluded people do not have the right to stay in the privileged queue and thus have

little opportunity to obtain free accommodation. They also experience difficulties with the interest-free loan. The rules for calculation of the mortgage state that the amount of money distributed to families is directly proportional to the number of family members working in the formal labour market. The fewer the family members who work, the lower the payments. Families of single parents and old-aged pensioners are often unable to qualify for a sufficiently large enough loan to buy accommodation which meets the requirements contained in the legislation.

Discriminatory practices Research in the Novosibirsk region of Western Siberia showed how civil servants administering housing loans ignore the regulation that even those with very small incomes are entitled to apply for an interest-free loan. They discourage people with low incomes from applying by telling them that their income is insufficient. Thus low-income forced migrants do not even collect a loan application form or wait until officials advise them that their income is sufficient for them to do so. Federal law states that a forced migrant can take an interest-free loan if he/she has either two guarantors or signs a contract of pledge with the Migration Service. These conditions were introduced to secure loan repayments. If a forced migrant cannot repay the loan then his/her guarantors will do so, or, in the case of the

contract of pledge, the accommodation will revert to the state. Though the law does not specify an upper age limit for signatories of loan agreements, officials in the Novosibirsk region routinely prevent the elderly from doing so. This is despite the fact that some pensioners have sufficient income to repay loans – nowadays in economically depressed regions of Russia a pension can be a more stable income source than a salary.

Conclusion What can be done to ensure that the housing programme for forced migrants returns to its declared aim of reducing social tension and maximising access to accommodation? ■ Gender and age inequalities must be acknowledged and addressed. ■ Criteria for the right to be in the privileged queue for free accommodation must be changed. ■ Low-income families must be added to the privileged group when the new housing code is considered by the State Duma (parliament) in autumn 2004. ■ Administrative practices which discourage low-income forced migrants from applying for mortgages and prevent pensioners from signing agreements must be eliminated. ■ Forced migrants should be given access to legal information and advice so that they can recognise violations of their rights and seek legal redress. Larisa Kosygina, a former lecturer at the Novosibirsk State Academy of Economics and Management, is now a research student at the Centre for Russian and East European Research, University of Birmingham. Email: This article draws on research in 2001-2003 supported by INTAS ( The Editors are keen to expand FMR coverage of forced migration issues in the Russian Federation and would be pleased to hear from researchers and institutions wishing to write for FMR. Email:


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UNRWA food distribution in Gaza halted Having destroyed Gaza’s airport and prevented its port from operating, Israel only permits goods to enter the Gaza Strip through the Karni crossing. On 1 April the UN Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) stopped distributing emergency food aid to some 600,000 refugees in the Gaza Strip as a result of restrictions introduced by Israeli authorities at Karni. Stocks of rice, flour, cooking oil and other essential foodstuffs that UNRWA provides to refugees reduced to poverty – or otherwise affected by a humanitarian crisis now in its 42nd month – have run out. Under normal circumstances, UNRWA delivers some 250 tons of food aid per day in Gaza alone as part of a wider programme of emergency assistance to refugees, initiated shortly after the outbreak of the current intifada in September 2000. Since then, the Gaza Strip has been locked into a deep socioeconomic crisis resulting from the prolonged closure of its border with Israel and the destruction of thousands of homes, agricultural land and manufacturing facilities. In March UNRWA joined six other UN agencies in an appeal to the Government of Israel to loosen restrictions on the import of food and other humanitarian materials into Gaza. This has been ignored by the Sharon government. UNRWA Commissioner-General Peter Hansen has warned that “If the new restrictions in Gaza continue, I fear we could see real hunger emerge for the first time in two generations. Israel’s legitimate, and serious, security concerns will not be served by hindering the emergency relief work of the UN.” UNRWA’s suspension of food distribution in Gaza follows the November 2003 decision of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to end humanitarian assistance in the West Bank. The ICRC noted Israel is in violation of its obligation under the Fourth Geneva Convention to ensure

UNIYA/Jesuit Refugee Service

update that the population of territories it occupies has sufficient access to food, water, health services and education.1 For more information on UNRWA’s work, contact Sami Mshasha’, the Agency’s Media and Communications Officer, email: 1. See FMR19, p51 FMR19/FMR19UNHCR.pdf

Camp Management Toolkit The Camp Management Project (bringing together the International Rescue Committee, the Danish and Norwegian Refugee Councils, UNHCR and OCHA’s Internal Displacement Unit) has completed the second draft of the Camp Management Toolkit1. Development of the Toolkit is ongoing and we welcome feedback and suggestions for improvements from a wide audience. We are particularly interested in receiving additional tools and information on best practices from the field. The Camp Management Toolkit addresses the technical and the administrative as well as the social aspects of camp management. The Toolkit focuses specifically on individual camp managers, management teams and camp management agencies. The Toolkit does not set out to replace specialised manuals relating to protection, water and sanitation or education but to promote a better understanding of the main issues and constraints from a camp management perspective. It should also promote positive cooperation between the camp management and the different agencies designated with sector responsibility in the running of a camp. If specialised agencies are not on the ground, the Toolkit should allow camp managers to understand each sector and advocate for proper coverage. We hope that the Toolkit will always be available in camps. All actors involved in the running of the camp should have access to it – not only the camp management team, but also sector/specialised agencies, camp resident representatives, local authorities, police and, most importantly of

all, the camp residents themselves. Agencies charged with camp management have a responsibility to train staff in using the Toolkit. To access the toolkit, and for support on training activities, visit or email Nina M Birkeland at: 1. See FMR18, p18 /FMR18/fmr18gidp.pdf

Darfur - Africa’s newest war sparks worst humanitarian crisis in the world today A little-reported conflict pitting rebels against government forces and militia groups in the Darfur region of western Sudan has created an enormous humanitarian crisis that has spilled over into neighbouring Chad. Two rebel groups — the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEMA) — accuse the Khartoum government of encouraging the Janjaweed tribe to commit ethnic cleansing. Civilians in Darfur are being subjected to indiscriminate violence and forced displacement on a massive scale. In a region where cross-border ethnic solidarity is a more powerful force than nationality, 135,000 Sudanese refugees have crossed the 1,350 km-long Chadian border. With world attention focused on the tortuous pace of peace talks between the Khartoum government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), the needs of Darfurian refugees and the estimated 700,000 IDPs seeking shelter in urban areas have been largely ignored. Poor security and Sudanese government-imposed travel restrictions have prevented humanitarian agencies from reaching those most in need of protection and assistance. The humanitarian situation may get worse during the traditional ‘hunger gap’ in the months preceding harvest time. The start of the rainy season in May will increase the logistical difficulties of reaching vulnerable populations in remote areas of Darfur and Chad. For further information on the Darfur crisis, see: and visit Relief Web



FMR 20

How can we obtain the information we need about refugees? by Greta Uehling


ell-informed policy and programme decisions are based on high-quality research. Research in the forced migration field is made difficult by the prevalence of highly mobile and continuously shifting populations in insecure settings. Urban, self-settled and undocumented populations often have an interest in remaining invisible. Studies of refugees and IDPs are therefore extremely difficult to undertake in ways that ensure that they are reliable, valid and representative. Obtaining the information we need in a manner that is professional, ethical and sensitive to the needs of informants is an ongoing challenge. Academics have called for more rigour in the field of forced migration studies, and donors have called for tighter quality control. “Our elaborate sampling methods basically disintegrated, and we were left speaking to the live bodies we could find.”

In response to the problems confronted by researchers in forced migration contexts and in order to build on previous initiatives to examine why we know so little about refugees1, UNHCR’s Evaluation and Policy Analysis Unit has proposed and led the formation of an ALNAP2 Working Group on ‘Evaluating the use of research methods in humanitarian contexts’. Oxfam, UNICEF, IRC, Feinstein Famine Center, Disaster Mitigation Institute India, HAP International, WHO, Save the Children UK and ODI are participating. The Working Group met in early April to develop a common understanding of the difficulties of research in humanitarian contexts, discuss methods to best address these issues and decide whether further guidance materials should be developed. The

presentations commissioned for the workshop introduced discussion on the following questions: ■ Host governments are often ambivalent or even hostile to the presence of forced migrants. How can researchers gain access to these populations in ways that do not endanger informants? ■ Beneficiaries of humanitarian aid are prone to tell researchers what they think they want to hear. How can this be avoided? ■ A sampling frame is extremely difficult to establish when a population is little known or highly mobile. Can this kind of research be representative? ■ The short turn-around time that is often required for research and evaluations means it is often difficult for fieldworkers to elicit the desired information. How can construct validity be achieved in chaotic settings? ■ When (and why) should viable alternative methods be considered?

sarily want to become objects of study, however, an over-reliance on the trappings of scientific objectivism may further distance us from potential informants. Fortunately, there is considerable consensus that a careful combination of qualitative and quantitative methods is the best approach for refugee and forced migrant populations. As well as providing an opportunity for researchers and humanitarian organisations to learn from one another, the workshop set out to identify practical ways to respond to the methodological and ethical challenges of this kind of research. There exists considerable interest in drafting guidelines that, rather than providing ‘how-to’ information (which already exists), would provide information about: ■ adapting existing tools to refugee and forced migration conditions ■ choosing the right methods in limited security environments ■ identifying the right people with the appropriate skills to carry out field research

■ How can we ask questions of traumatised individuals in a way that does not re-traumatise them? Can survey research be conducted in a way that takes into account the needs of informants?

For a report of the workshop, please visit or contact Greta Uehling is a long-term consultant in UNHCR’s Evaluation and Policy Unit. Email:

■ Survey research is often carried out by nationals and students who are sent into insecure environments. What should be our ethical guidelines?

1. See FMR 18, p55, ‘Why do we know so little about refugees? How can we learn more?’ by Jeff Crisp: fmr18unhcr.pdf 2.

One of the most contested issues is when surveys should and should not be carried out. Scientific methods such as surveys may be associated with rigour and robustness in some quarters. In the context of highly mobile populations who do not neces-

This is a regular page of news and debate from UNHCR’s Evaluation and Policy Analysis Unit (EPAU). For further information, or suggestions regarding this feature, contact Greta Uehling at

FMR 20

The Brookings-SAIS Project on Internal Displacement

The Brookings-SAIS Project on Internal Displacement

Promoting national responsibility for internal displacement in the Americas by Erin Mooney


ecause addressing internal displacement is primarily a duty of governments, promoting national responsibility and accountability is essential. This is no less true in Latin America, where there are some 3.3 million IDPs. Most are found in Colombia in conditions of tremendous insecurity. Numbers are much fewer in Mexico but their situation remains precarious and has only recently begun to receive attention. In Guatemala and Peru, many IDPs continue to lack a durable solution even though the conflicts ended several years ago. Throughout the region, a disproportionate number of the displaced are indigenous persons or belong to ethnic minorities. Governments in Latin America have taken certain steps to address the problem, in particular through the drafting and development of laws and policies. However, in the absence of effective implementation and the political will this requires, such initiatives too often have little practical meaning for IDPs. How to encourage the effective fulfilment of national responsibility emerged as the central question at the first regional seminar on internal displacement in the Americas, held in Mexico City from 18-20 February 2004.1 Participants, representing governments, NGOs, the UN, regional organisations and IDP communities therefore agreed that it would be valuable to spell out the key elements – 16 were identified – of what national responsibility for IDPs should entail. A critical first step is to acknowledge the problem of internal displacement and the national responsibility to address it. Moreover, raising national awareness must mean promoting solidarity with the displaced and thereby helping to remove ethnic, racial and ideological stigmas they suffer in the

Americas and which increase their vulnerability. Mass sensitisation campaigns that reach all relevant authorities, especially the military and police, are critically needed. National responsibility encompasses all phases of displacement, from prevention to finding durable solutions. It must include undertaking protective responses to early warnings of arbitrary displacement and attack, bringing to justice perpetrators of abuses against IDPs, and ensuring that any return is voluntary and safe. In addition, whether IDPs choose to return, resettle or integrate locally, they require reintegration assistance as well as reparation for losses suffered. Most IDPs in Latin America have had to return without such assistance. IDPs have the right to request and receive assistance and protection, without risk of punishment or harm.2 However, many displaced in the Americas lack even the documentation necessary to access their rights and receive assistance. Moreover, IDP leaders and others advocating on IDPs’ behalf do so at grave risk. The lack of security has also had a chilling effect on research and analysis, as epitomised in Guatemala by the killing of anthropologist Myrna Mack.3 Far greater efforts must be made by governments to protect IDPs and those seeking to help them. National human rights institutions in the Americas play an important role in promoting and protecting IDPs’ rights and monitoring the effectiveness of government responses. These mechanisms need to be strengthened and their activities expanded, in particular in responding to alerts of impending displacement and by increasing their presence in areas where IDPs are in danger.

Regional and international players also can help to reinforce national responsibility and accountability. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has been active in monitoring respect of IDPs’ rights and even in directly protecting the displaced. The outgoing Special Rapporteur on IDPs needs to be replaced and greater use made of the Inter-American Court on Human Rights to protect IDP rights. The international community also has an important role to play and one that could be broadened, in particular by sustained advocacy on protection, by increasing presence in areas where IDPs are at risk and by doing more to support the reintegration of IDPs when they return or resettle. These are just some of the key components in the framework for action developed at the seminar.4 Intended as both a guide for governments in responding to internal displacement and a basis for monitoring how effectively they are fulfilling their responsibilities towards IDPs, this framework provides benchmarks for evaluating and ultimately enhancing national responses in the Americas, as well as in situations of internal displacement elsewhere in the world. Erin Mooney is Deputy Director of the Brookings Institution-SAIS Project. Email 1. The seminar was co-sponsored by the Government of Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Office of the Representative of the UN Secretary-General on IDPs and the Brookings Institution-Johns Hopkins SAIS Project on Internal Displacement. 2. Principle 3, Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement. 3. For information about her murder and the subsequent campaign to bring her military killers to justice, see: or 4. The full report of the seminar including the framework for action will be published in Spring 2004 and posted at: idp/idp.htm



Norwegian Refugee Council

FMR 20

Youth Education Pack:

an investment in the future by Eldrid K Midttun and Toril Skjetne


n November 2003 Thomas Nimley Yaya, chairman of the Liberian rebel group MODEL, announced that his soldiers would disarm on one condition: they wanted vocational training in exchange for their guns. In their war-torn country neither money nor food could provide opportunities for a better future. The fighters needed to learn how to survive without the use of weapons. It has become increasingly evident that it is of vital importance to include youth in emergency and development programmes for uprooted people. Displaced adolescents have often had to drop out of school, either because they are engaged in fighting or because they are fleeing from it. Providing youth with education and vocational training, as well as ensuring a safe environment for their reintegration into the community, is essential if sustainable development is to be achieved. Great challenges

must be overcome: ravaged economies, battered infrastructure, scarce resources, adolescent-headed households and traumatised youth. The Norwegian Refugee Council is in the final stage of the ‘Youth Pack’ pilot programme in Sierra Leone. This is a one-year initiative combining literacy, life skills and vocational training. Youth participants will graduate from the programme trained in a craft that will increase their chances of securing a regular income. The tools and materials procured for the training form a start-up package for the students when they graduate – providing additional motivation for students to complete the programme. An assessment was undertaken to ascertain skills required for employment opportunities in the local economy. In Sierra Leone the courses include agriculture, masonry, carpentry, tailoring and hairdressing. Feedback to date has been positive and encouraging, as both participants and communities have embraced the opportunities the course offers. There are, however, many factors that need to be taken into consideration for the programme to be successful. Efforts are being made to link the Youth Pack to local income-generating loans schemes. The Youth Pack project has proved very successful in Sierra Leone. NRC is therefore planning to extend it to its country Mamusu Conteh is pregnant and in love and happier than ever. For over two years she was forced to be a sex slave for a rebel soldier. Today Mamusu participates in NRC’s Youth Pack programme in Sierra Leone. In addition to learning how to read and write, she is learning the trade of hairdressing in order to secure an income for her family’s future.

programmes in Liberia, DRC and Burundi. Other NGOs have expressed interest in starting similar projects elsewhere. The Youth Education Pack modules will be made available through the INEE, the Inter-Agency Network on Education in Emergencies ( along with textbooks and modules from other education sector actors.

Making the Youth Pack work requires: ■ cooperation with local education authorities and NGOs ■ ensuring a gender balance in classes and keeping them below 25 students ■ providing each class with two teachers, ideally one male and one female ■ basing skills training on actual local needs ■ continuing monitoring and further training of teachers ■ enabling young people themselves help introduce and decide some topics of interest ■ sensitising the local communities, parents and leaders to the goals of the programme and the importance of promoting regular attendance

Eldrid K Midttun ( and Toril Skjetne ( are NRC’s Education Adviser and Information Officer respectively. For more information on NRC’s work in Sierra Leone see:

FMR 20

Global IDP project

25 million people internally displaced by violence worldwide


y the end of 2003 there were nearly 25 million people displaced within their own countries by conflicts and human rights violations. During the year, some three million people were forced out of their homes in 2003; a similarly high number of IDPs were able to return, albeit often into situations of poverty and continuing human rights violations. In its yearly analysis of the worldwide internal displacement situation1, the Global IDP Project found that the African continent was again worst affected, hosting half of the world’s IDPs. The conflicts causing the largest new displacements are also to be found in Africa – in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Uganda and Sudan. Other regions were affected, too. In Asia-Pacific, a region accounting for 3.6 million IDPs, military campaigns launched by governments to quash insurgencies were a major cause of new displacement, while return movements continued elsewhere. In Latin America, the bloody conflict in Colombia accounted for nearly all the region’s 3.3 million IDPs and all new displacements during 2003. Some three million IDPs were still waiting in Europe to return home although active fighting has long since ended in most of the conflicts that caused their displacement. Little progress was made in the Middle East to find durable solutions for its two million IDPs, many of whom have been displaced for several decades. Encouraging peace processes in many countries raised hopes for the return of IDPs in 2003. Large-scale return indeed took place in a few countries; in Angola, for instance, nearly two million people were able to return home. In some countries, however, progress in the settlement of conflicts was overshadowed by the outbreak or

intensification of other crises which led to new displacement. This was the case, for example, in Darfur in western Sudan, in the Ituri province in eastern DRC and in Indonesia’s Aceh province. Fighting between government forces and rebel groups remained the main cause of displacement in 2003. Worryingly, civilians were in many cases deliberately targeted and expelled from their homes by armed forces as part of their military strategies. In several cases, national armies or government-backed militias were behind such displacements, including in Burma, Côte d’Ivoire, Sudan and Zimbabwe. The displaced were only rarely afforded adequate protection and assistance by their governments. In 13 of the 52 countries affected by internal displacement, IDPs could not count on their government for protection at all.

of the world’s internally displaced – some seven million people – do not benefit from any systematic UN assistance at all. The international ‘war on terror’ appears to have had a worsening effect on the protection of displaced people, particularly by encouraging governments to seek military solutions to conflicts and by undermining respect for international humanitarian and human rights standards. Labelling rebel groups ‘terrorists’ has allowed a number of regimes to intensify counter-insurgency campaigns, attract foreign military aid and avoid international criticism of human rights abuses against civilians. The full report, with detailed regional overviews, is available at www.idp

The world’s 10 worst displacement situations Burma Colombia DRC Liberia Somalia

Burundi Côte d’Ivoire Indonesia (Aceh) Russia (Chechnya) Sudan

This meant that more than ten million people were confronted with hostile or, at best, indifferent authorities who made no effort to protect them. Nearly 18 million IDPs received no humanitarian assistance from their government, or only on an occasional basis. The international community did not do enough to fill the gap left by governments unable or unwilling to help their displaced populations. Funding for humanitarian assistance was insufficient, and the UN has yet to put in place a system to more effectively protect and assist IDPs. Nearly a third

1. Global IDP Project ‘Internal displacement: A Global Overview of Trends and Developments in 2003’, Geneva 2004 ( 2004/Global_Overview.pdf)

IDP news IDP news is a weekly summary of news on IDPs in conflicts. It is compiled by the Global IDP Project, based on public information. Subscribe by email to: or visit our website



Refugee Studies Centre

FMR 20

Refugee Studies Centre, Queen Elizabeth House, 21 St Giles, Oxford OX1 3LA, UK. Tel: +44 (0)1865 270722. Fax: +44 (0)1865 270721. Email:

Voices out of conflict by Maryanne Loughry


conference organised by the RSC, International Rescue Committee and the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children — entitled ‘Voices out of conflict: young people affected by forced migration and political crisis’ — was held at Cumberland Lodge in the UK in March. Participants were addressed by young people from Sierra Leone, Bosnia, Palestine and Sri Lanka who had actively participated in conflict and in peace processes. Young invitees from northern Uganda were unable to attend, having been refused UK visas. There was two days of vigorous exploration and discussion concerning the voices, roles and influence of young people in situations of conflict. The opening session echoed with an uncomfortable challenge from a young person asking whether anyone but a young person could truly represent young people’s voices. This was asked of a presenter who had herself played an active role as a young combatant. The conference addressed young people’s protection problems before moving on to their actual and potential role in protection. It was emphasised that the international humanitarian community does not respond well to the specific protection concerns of young people and has failed to adequately consult them in planning and/or implementation. The background paper prepared for the conference noted the paucity of literature addressing the concerns of young people, observed a dominant tendency to focus exclusively on the vulnerabilities of youth and cited innovative recent research engaging young people in the research process.1 In the many different cultural settings

where there is conflict, who should be considered a young person? Singling out young people can have implications for other population groups not similarly targeted. The traditional approach of designing programmes for women and children perceived as vulnerable has often led to neglect of the needs of young adolescents — despite evidence from developmental psychologists that the transition from childhood to adulthood is fraught with difficulties. Because of their particular status and position in society adolescents and youth are often at greater risk of sexual violence and forcible military recruitment than those in other age categories. Not only do they not receive the kind of protection and support that younger children often receive but they also fail to obtain benefits and rights frequently by adults.

to youth participation. Caution was expressed by ‘elders’ that structures might need to be provided to mitigate against young people ‘rattling around’ — losing direction — while waiting for suitable forms of participation to be negotiated. The need for young people to have access to good information and support was emphasised.

[can] anyone but a young person ... truly represent young people’s voices?

Participation is one of the guiding principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In plenary sessions as well as small group discussions, the conference looked at the implications of young people actively choosing to participate in conflict — whether as combatants, negotiators or members of warring factions — and at the possibilities that open up when young people participate in peace processes. Particular attention was paid to the potential role of participation in facilitating protection mechanisms for youth in conflict situations. The ‘elders’ at the conference were challenged to facilitate young people’s active participation in shaping initiatives. Practical, ethical and organisational challenges were highlighted. It was noted that many humanitarian agencies are very hierarchical and that this kind of organisational structure and culture does not predispose itself

The endnote presentation by General Roméo Dallaire2 provoked strong debate. Noting that many peacekeepers are young fighters, he called upon the audience — and governments — to consider sending young people to conflict settings to engage in youthto-youth communication and undertake research on the conflict. This suggestion clearly had ethical implications. The conference concluded that there were still many on-going challenges but that listening to the voices of young people is integral to developing ways to best meet these challenges. Maryanne Loughry is the Pedro Arrupe Tutor at the Refugee Studies Centre. Email: The conference report is available on the Cumberland Lodge website ( or from Janis Reeves, Cumberland Lodge, The Great Park, Windsor SLA 2HP, UK. Tel: + 44 (0)1784 497794. Email: 1 Available online at: 2 See the interview with General Dallaire in FMR15: pp8-9, online at FMR15/fmr15.3.pdf

FMR 20 2004 International Summer School in Forced Migration 5-23 July 2004 : Oxford, UK This three-week residential course offers state-of-the-art perspectives on issues of forced migration and humanitarian assistance. Participants – typically managers, field workers, policy makers and advanced researchers from IGOs, NGOs, government departments and universities – examine theory and practice. The course consists of lectures by experts in migration, tutor-led group work, case studies, simulations and individual study. 2004 lecturers include Stephen Castles, BS Chimni and David Turton. Course fee: £2,300 (incl. B&B accommodation in Wadham College, weekday lunches, tuition fees, course materials and social activities) Contact the International Summer School Administrator at the RSC, (address opposite) Tel: +44 (0)1865 270723 Email:

Cross-Cultural Psychology, Forced Migration and Peace Building 23-24 October 2004 : Oxford, UK This two-day workshop examines how cross-cultural psychology contributes to post-conflict reconstruction for peace following armed conflicts that produce mass displacement such as those in Sierra Leone, Angola and Afghanistan. It invites practitioners and theorists to engage with complex intercultural issues associated with psychosocial programming. Instructors: Dr Michael Wessels and Dr Maryanne Loughry. Course fee: £125 (incl course materials, refreshments and light lunch). For more details see Contact Dominique Attala, RSC (address opposite). Email:

Refugee Studies Centre Other recent FMO resource pages are on Women, News Resources, Rwanda and Health. Forthcoming pages include Africa Day (25 May), World Refugee Day (20 June) and UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture (26 June). All are accessible through the thematic resources menu at: thematic/ We are proud to announce the launch of the online bibliographies for the Sphere Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response, 2004 revised edition handbook. In collaboration with the Sphere Project, FMO has made most of the references and reading materials in the handbook’s bibliographies accessible online in full text. Some are available as pdfs on this website; for others we provide a direct hyperlink to where the document is available elsewhere online. See:

FMR Editorial Advisory Board Although the EAB members’ institutional affiliations are listed below, they serve in an individual capacity and do not necessarily represent their institutions. Jon Bennett Oxford Development Consultants Stephen Castles Refugee Studies Centre B S Chimni Jawaharlal Nehru University Mark Cutts UNHCR Jens Eschenbacher Clobal IDP Project Anila Khan DFID Erin Mooney Brookings-SAIS Project on Internal Displacement Nick Roseveare Oxfam GB Bonaventure Rutinwa University of Dar es Salaam

New resources The Forced Migration Online team at the RSC has produced a resource page on Livelihoods at: oods.htm

Dan Seymour UNICEF Marit Sorheim Norwegian Refugee Council Richard Williams Refugee Council, UK


FMR 22 : Emergency education The December 2004 issue, to be produced in partnership with UNESCO’s International Institute for Educational Planning and the Norwegian Refugee Council, will focus on education in emergencies and reconstruction. Authors should give prominence to policy implications, lessons learned and recommendations for replication of good practice. Within the context of education in emergencies and reconstruction, we invite submission of articles which may focus on: ■ Education as a function of child and youth protection ■ Educational access for refugees, IDPs and others suffering the effects of conflict and disasters ■ Minimum standards ■ The role of education in mitigating the psychosocial impact of conflict on children and adolescents ■ Education for peacebuilding and conflict resolution ■ Development and distribution of appropriate, relevant and culturally-sensitive curricula and teaching and learning materials ■ Overcoming exclusion of girls, minorities, persons with disability, HIV/AIDS ■ Bridging and accelerated programmes for children who have missed out on education ■ Managing teachers ■ School feeding ■ Working with government and de facto education authorities ■ Education for reintegration of returning populations ■ Models and mechanisms for reintegration of children and youth associated with armed groups ■ Reconstructing the functions of a Ministry of Education ■ Inter-agency coordination ■ Training and capacity building ■ Certification and validation of pupil and teacher attainments and qualifications ■ Health education, including awarenessraising about HIV/AIDS and other diseases prevalent during emergencies ■ Identifying and meeting community needs for non-formal, life skills and vocational education ■ Long-term monitoring and evaluation Deadline for submissions: 15 September 2004. Maximum length: 3,000 words. For author guidelines, see:



FMR 20

publications Poverty, International Migration and Asylum by Christina Boswell and Jeff Crisp. Policy Brief No 8. United Nations University, World Institute for Development Economics Research, Helsinki. March 2004. 45pp. ISBN 929190-574-7. Policy-focused summary of the UNUWIDER conference on Poverty, International Migration and Asylum. Examines implications as globalisation and modern communications increase the numbers of people fleeing instability, conflict and poverty. Available online at www.wider.

Supporting refugee children in 21st century Britain: a compendium of essential information (2nd edition)

ing to remain in the UK as refugees, or whose removal would otherwise breach their human rights. Deals comprehensively with the new procedures and framework of the Nationality Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 including asylum claims and monitoring, appeals and statutory review, procedure before adjudicators and the Immigration Appeal Tribunal.

Refugee Women (Second Edition) by Susan Forbes Martin. Dec 2003. 192pp. ISBN 0-7391-0589-2. $19.95.

Oxfam GB sets out arguments in support of the joint campaign with Amnesty International and the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) for a clampdown on small arms production and circulation (see

Update of the authoritative information source for those working with the children of refugees and asylum seekers in the UK. Takes account of changes in the law as a result of the Race Retaliations Amendment Act and the new Asylum Act. Describes best practice on educational provision for students for refugee communities, healthcare and emotional and psychological support.

Asylum Law and Practice by Mark Symes and Peter Jorro. Nov 2003. 579 pp. ISBN 040698378X. £92.00. First publication relating to the substantive law and practice surrounding the legal representation of those seek-

by Debbie Hillyer and Brian Wood. Oxfam Campaign Reports. Oct 2003. 98pp. ISBN 0-85598-522-4. £5.00.

Contact: LexisNexis UK, Tolley House, 2 Addiscombe Road, Croydon, Surrey CR9 5AF, UK. Tel: +44 (0)20 8662 2000. Fax: +44( 0)20 8662 2012. Email:

by Jill Rutter. Trentham Books. Sept 2003. 330pp. ISBN 1858562929. £19.99.

Contact: Trentham Books Limited, Westview House, 734 London Road, Stoke on Trent, ST4 5NP, UK. Tel: +44 (0) 1782 745567. Fax +44 (0) 1782 745553. Web:

Shattered lives: the case for tough international arms control

Beyond the headlines: an agenda for action to protect civilians in neglected conflicts by Amelia Bookstein. Oxfam Campaign Reports. Nov 2003. 56pp. £5.00.

Provides a background for understanding the legal issues and policies developed to protect women persecuted because of their gender. Describes the recent genesis of the category of IDPs, focusing on the unique hardships of women who flee their homes but remain within national borders. Foreword by Ruud Lubbers, UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Contact: Lexington Books, 4501 Forbes Blvd, Suite 200, Lanham MD 20706, USA. Order online at

FMR 20 Campaigning report detailing how civilians – especially those in forgotten conflicts – are suffering as humanitarian aid follows political priorities rather than the greatest need. Contact: Oxfam Publishing, 274 Banbury Road, Oxford, OX2 7DZ, UK. Tel: +44 (0)1865 312255. Fax: +44 (0)1865 312393. Email:

The war through the eyes of Somali women edited by Judith Gardner and Judy El Bushra, Catholic Institute for International Relations/Pluto Press. £12.79 + pp.


Rwanda ten years on 7 April 2004 was the 10th anniversary of the start of the Rwanda genocide. The Humanitarian Practice Network at the Overseas Development Institute held a public meeting on 24 March to look at what happened in Rwanda in 1994, how international humanitarian response has evolved since then, and where further change is needed to avoid horrors such as occurred in Rwanda. Discussants were: John Borton: Team Leader of Study III (Humanitarian Aid and Effects) of the Joint Evaluation of Emergency Assistance to Rwanda; Sadiki Byombuka: Projects Coordinator for CELPA (Communauté des Eglises Libres de Pentecôte en Afrique), an NGO in Bukavu, DRC, which became involved in humanitarian assistance with the refugee crisis in 1994; and Randolph Kent: UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Rwanda in 1994–95. The transcript of the meeting is at meeting0304.pdf

World Refugee Survey 2004 US Committee for Refugees. May 2004. 110pp. ISBN 0-936548-18-5. $25.00. Compelling first-hand accounts from Somali women of the impact of war and gender-based violence on their lives and how women are mobilising for peace and leading social recovery in a war-torn society. Contact: CIIR Public Relations, Unit 3, Canonbury Yard, 190a New North Road, London, N1 7BJ, UK. Web: Tel: +44 (0)20 7354 0883. Fax: +44 (0)20 7359 0017. Email:

If you would like to publicise one of your organisation’s publications or if you would like to recommend a publication for our Publications section, please send us full details - and, preferably, a copy or a cover scan.


The 43rd annual World Refugee Survey focuses on an immoral practice which has yet to touch the world’s conscience: the warehousing of more than seven

The Information Centre about Asylum and Refugees in the UK (ICAR) is an independent information centre that exists to promote understanding of asylum and refugees in the UK and to encourage informationbased debate and policy making. ICAR has recently launched a ‘Signpost Guide about Rwandan refugees in the UK’ to commemorate the genocide which took place ten years ago. The signpost provides details of resources, organisations, projects, real life stories and statistical data that may be useful to researchers, teachers, journalists, civil society groups and other interested parties. See pdf/sign02.pdf ICAR produces regular guides to coincide with important events relating to asylum and refugees. For details of these and other recent resources produced by ICAR, see content/about/new.html

million of the world’s 12 million refugees, who languish for ten years or more - some for generations - in conditions of restricted mobility, dependency and enforced idleness in refugee camps and segregated settlements, or are otherwise deprived of their basic rights under the 1951 UN Refugee Convention. The 2004 Survey includes feature articles by Karen Jacobsen, Merrill Smith, Michelle Berg, Joel Frushone, Veronika Martin and Lisa Raffonelli. The Survey is dedicated to the memory of Arthur Helton, who died last August in the UN headquarters bombing in Baghdad. The dedication is written by his colleague Gil Loescher, who survived the attack. Order online at Or contact: US Committee for Refugees, 1717 Massachusetts Ave NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20036, USA. Tel: +1 202 347 3507. Fax: +1 202 347 3418.


ustralians Against Racism (www.aus has published a book bringing together the best refugee stories submitted for an essay competition which ran in primary and secondary schools around Australia. The 37 stories in the collection provide extraordinary accounts written by young people. “A dark dream left a mark in my heart, mind and soul.”

“We have not been allowed to know the (recent) refugees as human beings – as men, women and children, as mothers and husbands, sons and daughters. These stories change all that and force a personal response from the reader. What a pity Australia’s bigots can’t be persuaded to read these accounts. It might, just might, make them more understanding and compassionate.” (Phillip Adams, columnist)

“I wish to escape from this cruel razor wire, I wish to escape from loneliness in captivity.”

Dark Dreams: Australian Refugee Stories edited by Sonja Dechian, Heather Millar and Eva Sallis, Wakefield Press. ISBN 1 86254 629 0. Available for $A19.95 + postage from Project SafeCom Inc, P.O. Box 364, Narrogin, Western Australia 6312, Australia. Online purchase:

“I do feel a little better now that I have told everyone my story … Many of us have hidden secrets and pains from our journeys or sadness because of the loss of loved ones”.

At the last count, 183 refugee children were being detained by the Australian government on the Australian mainland, Christmas Island or Nauru.

“They did what they could to stay alive, and then they played soccer.”

For more information about Australian refugee policy, visit the Refugee Council of Australia ( and Australians Against Racism (

Forced Migration Review Issue 20  

Sustainable livelihoods: seeds of success?

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